"Carbon sequestration is important - to capture atmospheric carbon that is believed to cause global warming," said VCCER director Michael Karmis. "It is hoped that development of technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere will enable fossil fuel use to continue without negative climatic effects."
According to the DOE, carbon sequestration is one of the most promising means of reducing the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and can be achieved through either terrestrial or geologic sinks. DOE defines terrestrial carbon sequestration as, "either the net removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere or the prevention of CO2 net emissions from the terrestrial ecosystems into the atmosphere."
Soils and vegetation are good examples of carbon storage sinks. Geologic sinks include oil and gas reservoirs, unmineable coal seams, and deep saline aquifers. These structures have stored oil, natural gas, brine and CO2 over millions of years. Many power plants and other large sources of CO2 are located near potential geologic sinks. In many cases, injection of CO2 into a geologic formation can enhance the recovery of hydrocarbons such as natural gas, providing marketable byproducts to offset the additional costs of carbon sequestration.
Virginia Tech will pinpoint CO2 sources, geological and terrestrial sinks, and transport requirements in Virginia, and will create a geographical information system (GIS) database using this information. The university has received $447,700 in funding as its portion of the 18-month project, which ends in September 2005.