Carbon Dioxide Monitoring Down Under

Carbon capture and storage injects carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by industrial processes deep underground, while environmental monitoring of such sites makes sure the CO2 gas stays put.

Katherine Romanak, a research scientist at the Bureau of Economic Geology’s Gulf Coast Carbon Center, travelled to Queensland, Australia, in spring 2017 to run environmental monitoring experiments for a carbon capture and storage project in its preliminary stages.

The Carbon Transport and Storage Corporation Pty. Ltd. Surat CCS Demonstration Project is designed to demonstrate the technical viability, integration and safe operation of carbon capture and storage in Australia’s Surat Basin. Currently in the preliminary stages, the project is undergoing assessments and
approvals in environmental, social and technical aspects under various government regulations.

Romanak’s research involves testing different leak detection methods. One involves testing if simple soil gas ratios can be used for real-time leak detection in hydrocarbon-rich environments.

Another project involves testing the degree to which isotopes
can be used for leak detection. Romanak’s research project is funded by the Australian National Low Emissions Coal Research and Development Ltd. on behalf of the Australian coal industry and the Australian Commonwealth government.