If you are going to scrub harmful carbon dioxide from industrial emissions and inject it into geological formations, you want to make sure the material is going to remain there.
Dr. Dave Risk and his team in the Flux Lab at St. Francis Xavier University are working to see that happens, using equipment financed with the assistance of the Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust (NSRIT).
Working with multiple partners, and $1.5 million in support announced by Natural Resources Canada, the lab is developing tools and techniques to monitor carbon capture and storage sites – predicted to become one the more popular future ways to keep greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
Carbon capture is a complicated process. The Flux Lab effort is focused at distinguishing between gases emitted by natural processes and seeping gases coming from the storage facility.
The project includes two field experiments in different ecotypes in Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan, and ongoing development of new algorithms used in monitoring technology developed and patented in Dr. Risk’s lab.
The project supports one grad student, a part-time post-doctoral fellow, casual undergraduate work, and a project manager.
Dr. Risk says carbon storage projects are well designed and have extremely low likelihood of seepage, so researchers have to define detection limits and push them as low as possible.
“And, if we can find economical strategies for doing so, everyone wins.”
NSRIT has provided more than $113,000 toward the purchase of specialized equipment for the lab since 2007.