Geologic carbon sequestration, life-cycle assessment, and what to do with not-quite-perfect solutions
It is easy to be skeptical of initiatives aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Biofuels seem great until you factor in all the land and water they require; wind turbines are clean, but they pose a threat to birds; electric cars are often charged by coal-generated electricity; recycling can be helpful, but… well, you get the point.
Given how easy it is to play the role of a skeptic, I find it important to balance my views with a healthy dose of optimism. After all, in face of the daunting challenge of meeting our long-term energy needs while reducing carbon dioxide emissions, I am a firm believer that no action is too small and that even modest efforts are worthwhile.
One strategy recently placed on my radar is geological carbon sequestration (GCS), in which carbon dioxide emissions are injected into geological structures deep within the earth. GCS came to my attention when I attended a talk by research scientist Thomas McKone of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. In his talk, McKone discussed his outlook for GCS, specifically GCS in brine-filled aquifers found in sedimentary basins. (His talk was part of Carbon Cycle 2.0, a series of lectures by LBNL researchers working toward a carbon-neutral energy future.)
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