Digging for Solutions

KU researchers study feasibility of storing carbon dioxide underground in Kansas
KU researchers are developing detailed maps of subsurface structures in Kansas to determine whether they can store carbon dioxide and use it to release trapped oil reserves.

How do you keep industrial byproduct carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere and perhaps reach previously inaccessible oil reserves at the same time?

The answer could lie beneath the plains of Kansas, where University of Kansas researchers are drilling deep into ancient rock and attempting to store CO2, a greenhouse gas that’s been linked to climate change. In addition, KU researchers are determining whether targeted CO2 injections can release trapped oil unreachable by traditional methods. The technique has been used extensively in west Texas oil fields and in a Russell County demonstration project.

The researchers are focusing their CO2 sequestration efforts on the Wellington oil field in Sumner County while studying subsurface structures in Ellis County north of Hays to determine storage prospects there. The projects are funded largely by the Department of Energy.

“Imagine the dual benefits of storing carbon dioxide underground and using it to reach previously inaccessible oil reserves,” said Lynn Watney, a Kansas Geological Survey geologist at KU. “This would simultaneously address a variety of environmental and energy issues and could lead to significant economic benefits for rural Kansas.”

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