- © 2013 Mineralogical Society of America
Among the many scenarios that have been proposed to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to the atmosphere, carbon-capture and storage (CCS) in geological reservoirs represents the method most technologically feasible and capable of accommodating the large amounts of CO2 that are generated on an annual basis by combustion of fossil fuels (IPCC, 2005). Geological environments and processes that have been proposed for CCS include deep, unmineable coal seams, depleted oil and gas reservoirs, organic-rich shale basins, deep saline formations, and mineral carbonation of basalts. Of these various options, the one that is most attractive owing to its widespread distribution and capacity to store large amounts of CO2 is deep saline formations, with the U.S. Department of Energy reporting that saline formations in the United States could potentially store more than 2,100–20,000 billion metric tons of CO2 (DOE, 2012). A recently released assessment of geologic carbon dioxide storage potential (USGS, 2013) estimates a capacity ranging from 2,400 to 3,700 billion metric tonnes (Gt) of CO2, which corresponds to the low end of the DOE estimate.
When supercritical CO2 (scCO2) is injected into a saline formation, it may be stored in various ways. Initially, the CO2 will be stored by structural and stratigraphic trapping, whereby scCO2 is trapped beneath an impermeable confining layer that prohibits the upward migration of the more buoyant scCO2. Some scCO2 may also be stored by residual trapping in pores via capillary forces. In the discussion to follow, we include residual trapping with structural/stratigraphic trapping as all of these processes involve the storage of a scCO2 phase and, as such, the volume requirements are assumed to be identical for these storage mechanisms for a given mass of CO2. Over time, …