Scottish researchers have been looking at ancient rocks to learn more about reducing climate change. Throughout the world, there are underground pockets of CO2, which are securely and safely held without the gases escaping to the atmosphere. While this is something we’ve known about and have been working on for some time, we’re learning more about natural carbon storage all the time.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) refers to trapping CO2 emissions beneath the surface of the Earth, so that the gas doesn’t get to the atmosphere and contribute to climate change. It’s not a system which will roll back climate change and undo damage already done, but it is a way to reduce the amount of damage that we do over time.
It’s not as simple as putting CO2 in a hole and covering it with rocks though. Research tells us that the most secure way to store CO2 is 1200 meters or so deep, with a high density of gas and numerous, thick rocks to cap the reservoirs off. It is possible for the gas to escape, but this primarily happens through geological faults, something that we can more easily avoid than nature does.
Scientists working on CCS technology have to be careful to prevent leaks from happening, because in addition to defeating the purpose of sequestering the CO2 in the first place, such leaks can pose a health hazard and would make people question the method in the first place.
But CCS is a promising technology, and one which has been in the works for years. We’re already using CCS in some locations, and there are numerous examples of natural reservoirs throughout the world, so we know it’s a system that works. The key to the future is making sure that we can prevent leaks, and getting more such system put into place.