A Primer on CO2 Sequestration
Carbon sequestration technologies capture and store CO2 that would otherwise enter the atmosphere for long periods of time. The idea of storing CO2 in deep rock formations is in some ways an obvious one. CO2 is released into the atmosphere from our use of fossil fuels. The process of sequestration, simply stated, involves putting the carbon back where it came from. Geologic storage technologies are already in use; natural gas produced for fuel, for example, is routinely re-injected into the ground to be stored until it is needed, and CO2 is often injected into oil reservoirs to increase recovery. The DOE's Office of Fossil Energy launched the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships program in 2003 to develop and validate carbon capture and storage technologies as part of a national strategy to minimize global climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Seven regional partnerships form the centerpiece of national efforts to develop the infrastructure and knowledge base needed to place carbon capture and storage technologies on the path to commercialization. Each of the partnerships works with local organizations and citizens who contribute expertise, experience and perspectives that represent the concerns and wishes of a given region. To date, nearly two dozen small-scale CO2 storage field verification tests are in progress nationwide or have been completed by these partnerships. This research is providing an essential foundation for monitoring, measuring and verifying storage of CO2 in the subsurface at a commercial scale. The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) envisions having a technology portfolio of safe, cost effective, commercial-scale greenhouse gas capture, storage and mitigation technologies available for commercial deployment beginning in 2020. NETL's Carbon Sequestration Program contributes significantly to the President's goal of developing technologies to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions without adversely influencing energy use or hindering economic growth.