A new field laboratory in Western Australia is improving our understanding of how carbon dioxide behaves in a range of geological settings.

The challenge

Limiting emissions with CCS

Carbon capture and storage (CCS), is considered an important part of the range of solutions to help reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. However, more research is needed to help us effectively monitor CO2 movement deep underground, and to identify which geological formations are most suitable for its permanent storage.

There is also broad community interest in ensuring human and environmental safety following CO2 injection.

Injecting CO2 underground is a well-established technology taken from oil and gas industry experience, but each storage site is geologically unique and must be investigated for its suitability and long-term security.

Our response

An outdoor lab

CSIRO's In Situ Laboratory Project will gather key data to answer some of these questions to reduce risks and uncertainties around the capture and storage of CO2.

Scientists perform carbon storage research at CSIRO's In Situ Laboratory in Western Australia

Scientists perform carbon dioxide storage research at CSIRO's In Situ Laboratory  ©

Using an existing well (Harvey-2), CSIRO researchers will strategically place monitoring instruments in order to conduct a shallow CO2 release test in the subsurface area.

This project will inject a small volume of CO2 into a faulted zone to mimic a potential leak. Monitoring activities will address the impact (if any) of the CO2 in the groundwater and soil gas and the duration of any perturbations.

Researchers are seeking to:

  • better understand of the behaviour of a large fault zone on the migration of leaked CO2 in shallower intervals in the study area
  • learn how CO2 might behave if it reaches shallow depths during a commercial scale operation
  • quantify and verify monitoring tools to identify a small subsurface leak
  • provide data to help evaluate potential environmental impacts to soils and groundwater.

The results

Filling the knowledge gaps

CSIRO's research is contributing data and knowledge to the portfolio of geological settings which may be appropriate for CO2 storage.

The outputs from our research will build increased confidence to drive industrial uptake and investment in CCS and reduce uncertainty. The results will provide fundamentally new, publicly-available data for government, industry and the international research community. The project will aim to quantify potential impacts of a CCS project at this site and establish other metrics for measuring, monitoring and verifying storage of CO2 to community and interested parties.

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