New plan to force greenhouse gases underground

June 03, 2001

A MAJOR proportion of the world's greenhouse gases may be pumped underground, according to researchers at Adelaide University, Australia.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are not only caused by fuel consumption, they are also a byproduct of petroleum production at oil and gas fields, adding to the global greenhouse problem.

Now a $1 million study at Adelaide's National Centre For Petroleum Geology & Geophysics (NCPGG) is investigating ways of removing those emissions by injecting the CO2 back into the ground where it came from.

The work puts Adelaide University at the international forefront of greenhouse research. It is hailed as one of the most practical, environmentally sustainable and economically feasible solutions to the world wide greenhouse gas problem.

"This technology has the potential to make a substantial difference to global greenhouse emissions," says the coordinator of the project in Adelaide, Dr Simon Lang (Associate Professor, NCPGG).

"Greenhouse gas emissions are expected to lead to global warming of between 2-4 degrees Celsius on average over the next century. Even if we make major reductions to emissions, global warming will still occur but at a lesser rate. Finding solutions to reduce the emissions is vital if we are to avoid potentially destructive climate change," he says.

Technology for removing huge quantities of emissions in "CO2 sinks", as they're called, is currently being developed and trialled in Norway. However, Dr Lang says Australia is leading the way in this research.

"We're investigating the means by which this can be done safely and in sufficient quantities to dwarf other available methods. This may prove to be one of the only ways of reducing emissions at a great enough rate."

The outcomes, if successful, would complement other methods of greenhouse gas reduction, such as tree planting, improved energy efficiencies, reduction in the use of coal as an energy source, and shifting to new gas and fuel cell technologies.

"The idea is to find places where we could store hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 injected at high rates for many years, and it appears that Australia has several sites where this may be feasible both technically and economically," Dr Lang says.
-end-
The research program is funded by the Australian Petroleum Cooperative Research Centre with substantial industry support. The project also has international research links with key players in the US, the UK and Europe.

MEDIA CONTACT

PhD student Catherine Gibson-Poole is available for interviews: 618-8303-4295 wk, 618-8265-3413 hm, or 0416-271-750 mobile. Email: cgibsonp@ncpgg.adelaide.edu.au

(Associate Professor Lang is attending an international conference on this issue.)

University of Adelaide

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