DOE Announces Nearly $4 Million To Enhance the Safety and Security of CO2 Storage

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced nearly $4 million for four research and development projects to design new methods to identify and reduce the risk of seismic disruptions and CO2 leakage in underground carbon dioxide storage facilities. Advancements in geologic sequestration of CO2 will help scale up carbon capture efforts, prevent contamination of U.S. groundwater supply, and draw the country closer to the ambitious goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Large scale carbon capture efforts are vital to getting America emissions free by 2050, and how we store this CO2 must be safe, secure and permanent,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The R&D investments in new tools and technology to monitor underground activity near CO2 storage sites will help us minimize risk from natural events like earthquakes, safeguard the environment and water supply, and get us that much closer to our clean energy goals.” 

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the separation and capture of  CO2 from the emissions of industrial processes prior to release into the atmosphere and the injection of  CO2 in deep underground geologic formations, like caprock. In moments of natural seismic activity, such as volcanos and earthquakes, fissures can be created in caprock storage facilities allowing CO2 to leak through the ground to nearby groundwater sources.  

The four selected projects below will begin to solve challenges related to long-term, commercial-scale storage of CO2. The projects will work to improve the tools to monitor the seal integrity of caprocks – hard layers of rock beneath the surface that cannot transmit gas – used in carbon storage complexes, and develop methods to predict seismicity magnitudes and potential hazard of leakage during the CO2 storage process.  

  • University of Houston (Houston, Texas) – The project will develop and test cost-effective seismic data processing technologies including a system to automatically detect faults on 3D seismic migration images. (Award Amount: $799,932) 
  • William Marsh Rice University (Houston, Texas) – The project is developing a new strategy for monitoring seal integrity which has the potential to provide a powerful platform for identifying CO2  leakage through reactivated faults or fracture zones.(Award Amount: $1,195,213)  
  • Battelle Memorial Institute (Columbus, Ohio) – The project is developing an acoustic emissions (AE)-based technique to predict the location and movement of CO2 through a confining layer in a geologic carbon storage (GCS) system. (Award Amount: $799,354) 
  • The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (Socorro, New Mexico) – The project will deploy the latest field technology, such as the utilization of a novel geochemical technology that uses drill cuttings and cores to locate faults and evaluate their effects on subsurface fluids system. (Award Amount: $1,199,965) 

“Our state is a powerhouse in the energy sector, and it’s important to make sure Texans’ needs are met without adversely affecting our nation’s landscape,” said U.S. Senator John Cornyn. “I applaud this announcement and will continue to do everything I can to fight for Texas’ energy needs.” 

“The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology has an incredible team that is well-equipped to further our knowledge on sequestration geology. I’m proud that New Mexico’s outstanding research universities are playing a key role in advancing carbon capture and sequestration strategies, said U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich. “I will keep fighting for federal investments to support science– our most fundamental tool in fighting climate change– and supporting the scientists and researchers of today and tomorrow, dedicated to solving the climate crisis.” 

“Carbon capture and storage technologies are a vital part of our efforts to aggressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the most harmful impacts of the climate crisis. Today’s investment by the Department of Energy supports the commercial deployment of these important technologies by making them more resilient to seismic disruptions,” said U.S. Senator Ben Ray Lujan. “I’m pleased to see the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology among the award recipients for their groundbreaking work to identify seismic faults and their potential impacts on CO2 storage. These four projects are leading the way to address the climate crisis and protect our natural resources by ensuring that CO2 we put away remains safely and securely sequestered.” 

The projects will be managed by DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and will support the goals of the Advanced Storage R&D technology platform in DOE’s Carbon Storage Program.  

The Office of Fossil Energy funds R&D projects to reduce the cost and decarbonize power generation, industrial sources, and remove CO2 from the atmosphere to further the sustainable use of the Nation’s energy resources. To learn more about the programs within the Office of Fossil Energy, visit the Office of Fossil Energy website or sign up for FE news announcements. More information about the National Energy Technology Laboratory is available on the NETL website