That is exactly what University of Saskatchewan researchers are looking into, after receiving $630,000 from Carbon Management Canada.
CMC is a network of more than 100 scientists at 22 universities across the country. According to their website, “Carbon Management Canada helps national and international experts collaborate on one of the most pressing issues of our times — the reduction of CO2 emissions.”
At the U of S, geological engineering researcher Chris Hawkes is in charge of the project that will involve laboratory testing and the development of state-of-the-art computer simulations to find out how to inject carbon dioxide underground and make sure it stays there.
The innovative project will play a big role in determining if carbon capture and storage will work for the roughly 50 coal-fired power plants in Canada, which release an estimated 50 million tonnes of greenhouse gasses annually.
“These enhanced tools are badly needed to determine whether underground CO2 storage is a viable and secure option that can be scaled up to play a significant role in managing global emissions,” said Hawkes in a press release.
Similar techniques have been tried in Canada for years, for example in the oil fields. However, the typical rates of injection at most of these sites have been one megatonne, or less, of CO2 per year.
The research being done at the U of S will allow engineers to predict and respond to changing conditions at CO2 storage sites where the rate of injection is 10 to 30 megatonnes per year.