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New Carbon Storage Atlas Shows Hundreds of Years of CO2 Storage Potential

December 21, 2012 - 9:58am

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Atlas IV was created by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), and includes input from the more than 400 organizations in 43 states and four Canadian provinces that make up the Department’s seven Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships (as shown above). <a href="http://www.natcarbviewer.com/">See this map here.</a>

Atlas IV was created by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), and includes input from the more than 400 organizations in 43 states and four Canadian provinces that make up the Department’s seven Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships (as shown above). See this map here.

There are atlases for just about everything.  If you want to know the highest elevation of the Pyrenees Mountains, you could consult a world atlas (to save you some time, the answer is 11, 168 feet).  If you find yourself wondering exactly where the Roman province of Bithynia was located, you might check out an historical atlas (since you may not have one handy, it’s a part of modern Turkey). 

But if you want to know just how much carbon dioxide (CO2) can be safely stored underground in U.S. saline formations, oil and gas reservoirs, and unmineable coal seams, you would have to refer to the 2012 edition of  the Energy Department’s Carbon Utilization and Storage Atlas (the answer: at least 2,400 billion metric tons).

The new fourth edition of the Carbon Utilization and Storage Atlas (or Atlas IV) underscores the huge potential of Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage – or CCUS – to help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  CCUS works by capturing CO2 from industrial sources and power plants that burn coal, then permanently storing or putting it to good use. Atlas IV details how and where the CO2 could be stored, as well as some of the most important ways it could be re-used. It also outlines the Department’s Carbon Storage Program and CCUS collaborations, along with worldwide CCUS projects and regulatory issues.

CO2 stored underground in those fields could be used for enhanced gas recovery and enhanced oil recovery.  That means that the remaining hard-to-get oil and gas in these sites could be added to our supplies, strengthening our energy security.

Atlas IV was created by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).  It includes input from the more than 400 organizations in 43 states and four Canadian provinces that make up the Department’s seven Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships.  The Atlas also incorporates valuable information from ten storage site characterization projects, which were funded by the Recovery Act.

For nearly 10 years, Regional Partnerships have been investigating the best possible CO2 storage sites.  Today, they’re testing storage potential in different geologic formations.  They’re also considering best practices for CO2 storage in different kinds of geologic formations.  Atlas IV reflects this work and builds on the findings of previous editions to include the most up-to-date information on geologic storage potential in the U.S. 

So, if you have any questions about CO2 utilization and storage, the different kinds of geologic formations and where they’re located, or CCUS in general, Atlas IV is now available online at the NETL website.  And if you want to dig deeper and see the data used for the resource estimates in the Atlas, you can check out an interactive version on the National Carbon Sequestration Database and Geographic Information System (NATCARB) website.

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