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A group led by NETL researchers lately launched airborne technologies at a industrial-scale carbon dioxide (CO2) geologic storage web site in Mississippi to comprehensive a very first-of-its-type electromagnetic survey and gather information required to monitor greenhouse gas sequestered in the subsurface.

Deep underground storage of CO2 is a important element in the nation’s efforts to obtain a one hundred% carbon emission-absolutely free electrical energy sector by 2035 and a net-zero carbon economy by 2050 and avert the disastrous influence of climate transform.

Even so, big-scale carbon sequestration demands to be closely monitored to guarantee the greenhouse gas does not escape the protective layer of cap rock and leak to the surface or contaminate underground aquifers that provide drinking water.

To create an helpful monitoring tool, the NETL-led group tested a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) magnetometerat the Kemper Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise (CarbonSAFE) web site. The blimp-shaped device, which has been made use of by market to come across diamonds and other important minerals in the subsurface, was tethered to a helicopter and flown more than the largely forested location in east-central Mississippi (verify out the SQUID magnetometer liftoff video).

The SQUID magnetometer can detect magnetic fields of exceptionally low magnitude. Detection and evaluation of this measured geophysical information can support researchers recognize geological capabilities and document modifications when CO2 is injected.

The testing completed in Mississippi will also support the group, which incorporated NETL researchers Rick Hammack and Colton Kohnke and project partners from the Colorado College of Mines and Dias Geophysical, decide if airborne electromagnetic surveys provide an helpful, reduce-expense resolution for monitoring carbon storage web sites.

If profitable, the technologies will verify previous subsurface characterization efforts and create baseline measurements and subsurface representations. In addition, the airborne surveys may well help operators of underground storage web sites in their efforts to monitor CO2 plume movement. The CO2 injected into the subsurface creates a plume, which enlarges inside the reservoir till injection is comprehensive. Web page operators monitor the movement of the plume to guarantee the integrity of the sequestration.

A series of flights have been created more than the Project ECO2S CarbonSAFE web site. The very first involved making use of the magnetometer to measure naturally occurring electrical currents in the subsurface and also man-created electromagnetic noise. The information collected can be made use of to decide the place of brine, the thickness of rock layers, fractures and other subsurface capabilities.

For other tests, the group ran electric existing to a five-meter-extended grounded dipole antenna that was oriented either in a north/south path or in an east/west path. The two antenna orientations have been made use of to radiate electromagnetic power into the subsurface when the magnetometer was flown more than the test location following a north-to-south grid pattern.

All flights have been undertaken to create baseline representations of the subsurface for comparison with information to be collected right after CO2 is injected into the subsurface. The flights involving the use of a liquid-helium-cooled SQUID magnetometer are a novel application for monitoring the efficiency of industrial-scale carbon storage operations.  

“This was a very first-of-its-type survey to gather field measurements from a prospective carbon storage web site making use of a subsequent-generation SQUID magnetic receiver on a helicopter,” Hammack mentioned.  

Airborne electromagnetic surveys may well provide a reduce-expense option to accurately estimate capabilities in the subsurface.

At the moment, vibroseis trucks are usually made use of to produce seismic waves by shaking the surface. Geophones are positioned to acquire the reflected subsurface seismic signal from the truck and transmit the information to measuring instruments positioned nearby.  This strategy is pricey, and a more affordable resolution to image subsurface CO2 plumes is required. 

Airborne electromagnetic surveys need far much less time and can be completed at reduce expense. Plus, airborne surveys remove the need to have to negotiate agreements with landowners to bring gear to a web site when a survey demands to be completed.

The coarse sand inside the Project ECO2S CarbonSAFE web site possesses fantastic porosity and permeability. “It’s a extremely fantastic web site for carbon storage that can be sophisticated making use of this new tool to closely monitor CO2 behavior in the subsurface,” Hammack mentioned.

“The subsequent stage in the improvement of the technologies will concentrate on comparing information from our testing in Mississippi with the airborne magnetometer against effectively logs and other information in the location to see how they match up,” Kohnke mentioned.

NETL drives innovation and delivers technological options for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous power future. By making use of its globe-class talent and analysis facilities, NETL is making sure very affordable, abundant and dependable power that drives a robust economy and national safety, when creating technologies to handle carbon across the complete life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.

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