Washington, May 25 : Capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) and burying it away underground, which has on paper been described as one of the most effective in cutting down on greenhouse gases, is moving closer to reality.
According to a report in Discovery News, the process, known as carbon capture and storage (CCS), has already been given the green signal by the US Department of Energy (DOE), with a funding of 126 million dollars for two large-scale carbon storage projects in California and the Midwest.
The DOE had previously announced 253.7 million dollars in funding for four others.
"The announcement of these two projects, making a total of six, each with a minimum of a million tons of CO2 injected underground, is a massive step forward," said Julio Friedmann of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California.
Companies have been injecting CO2 into the ground already, including in efforts to help force the last bits of oil out of oilfields, but the scale does not match what is needed to store CO2 from coal-fired plants.
"The next tier of questions include ones that really require a large, sustained injection," said Friedmann.
"These projects will help researchers understand how the Earth's crust deforms as large volumes of CO2 are pumped underground, and which sites are the best for storing CO2," he added.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency is drafting regulations to address how sites for CO2 burial should be selected, managed and monitored and to address questions of who pays if something goes wrong.
"Having the regulations established is going to be helpful in moving the technology forward," said Sarah Forbes of the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C.
To Friedmann and Forbes, advancing the use of CCS is critical for addressing climate change.
"You have a new coal plant in China and India being built every single day," said Forbes. "The climate change problem is so big, and you can't address it without addressing coal," he added.