UNT Researchers to Study Carbon Sequestration

Storing carbon dioxide (CO2) underground has emerged in recent years as a potential and promising solution in the fight against global warming. But is it safe?

Four University of North Texas professors, with a $717,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, hope to find out by simulating and modeling the chemical reactions that occur when CO2 is injected underground.

"Policy makers are going to have to make some very big decisions in the next decade on global warming," said Tom Cundari, a Regents professor of chemistry and one of the lead investigators. "We're basically going to use computers to act like a time machine and speed up those chemical reactions to determine how the CO2 will react with water and minerals."

A large portion of CO2 emissions in the United States and across the world comes from power plants that burn coal, natural gas and oil. That CO2 could be captured and pumped below ground, either in depleted oil and gas wells or in deep saline reservoirs. This issue is of particular interest in Texas, which has an abundance of oil and gas wells.

Jincheng Du, an assistant professor in materials science and engineering and one of the project researchers, said this research could lead to advances in finding ways to convert CO2 into something useful.

For example, scientists already know the injection of CO2 in rock formations can enhance the recovery of difficult-to-reach oil or natural gas. Through careful catalytic reactions, CO2 also can be activated to produce useful industrial raw materials such as carbon monoxide and methane.

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