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Physical and economic potential of geological CO2 storage in saline aquifers

Eccles, JK, L Pratson, RG Newell, RB Jackson
Environmental Science and Technology
Journal Volume/Pages: 
43, 1962-1969

Carbon sequestration in sandstone saline reservoirs holds great potential for mitigating climate change, but its storage potential and cost per ton of avoided CO2 emissions are uncertain. We develop a general model to determine the maximum theoretical constraints on both storage potential and injection rate and use it to characterize the economic viability of geosequestration in sandstone saline aquifers. When applied to a representative set of aquifer characteristics, the model yields results that compare favorably with pilot projects currently underway. Over a range of reservoir properties, maximum effective storage peaks at an optimal depth of 1600 meters, at which point 0.18-0.31 tons can be stored per cubic meter of bulk volume of reservoir. Maximum modeled injection rates predict minima for storage costs in a typical basin in the range of $2-$7/ton CO2 (2005 U.S. $) depending on depth and basin characteristics in our base-case scenario. Because the properties of natural reservoirs in the United States vary substantially, storage costs could in some cases be lower or higher by orders of magnitude. We conclude that available geosequestration capacity exhibits a wide range of technological and economic attractiveness. Like traditional projects in the extractive industries, geosequestration capacity should be exploited starting with the low cost storage options first, then moving gradually up the supply curve.

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