Geologic Sequestration Process Overview

Geologic Sequestration

mountains at sunrise

To better explain the process of Geologic Sequestration as a means of Carbon Capture and Sequestration, or CCS, we have identified 4 stages. A deep understanding of the unique conditions and challenges of each stage is required to properly assess the constraints and design requirements.

Stage 1: CO2 Emissions

Since 1957, the Mauna Loa laboratory, located on Hawaii’s Big Island, has been measuring atmospheric CO2 levels. These CO2 levels have been on a steady annual increase throughout this period. Even with the technologic improvements in power generation and transportation efficiencies, the imbalance is growing between CO2 emissions and the planet’s ability to absorb and utilize the CO2 biologically.

Stage 2: CO2 Capture

Undeniably the most challenging aspect of CCS is the technology to strip CO2 out of industrial waste streams. This technology continues to evolve in order to meet environmental challenges. CO2 filtration and capture are complex processes that require further development to become efficient and cost effective – to the point that @elonmusk, on Twitter, has offered a $100M prize to the best carbon capture technology, as recently as January of 2021.

Stage 3: CO2 Transportation

CO2 pipelines have been in operation for almost 50 years and have an excellent safety record with almost 5,200 miles of pipeline across twelve states. Over the next decade, industry analysts estimate a growth rate of nearly 1,000 miles per year of additional CO2 pipelines in the US.

Stage 4: Geologic CO2 Sequestration

CO2 has safely been injected into depleted hydrocarbon formations since 1971 for the purpose of enhanced oil recovery. Although, not the same as permanently sequestering the CO2, this injection application was the innovator and inspiration of modern-day Geologic Carbon Sequestration. These Geologic CO2 Sequestration wells are regulated by the EPA’s Class VI standards and permitting requirements to protect freshwater aquifers from contamination and CO2 escaping into the atmosphere.

Geological Sequestration Overview Diagram