Fugitive Gas Emissions Detection Facilities
NETL uses an array of innovative laboratory techniques and field methods to
detect and monitor fugitive emissions of CO2 stored in geologic formations.
By providing an accurate accounting of stored CO2 and a high level of confidence
that the CO2 will permanently remain in storage, these efforts can help ensure
the technical soundness and economic viability of carbon sequestration, a technology
that is critical to meeting the national goal of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Successful research to establish the stability and integrity of host formations
will help developers of sequestration projects secure permits and emissions
reduction credits, while preventing damage to ecosystems and ensuring public
health and safety.
To identify possible CO2 migration pathways, NETL scientists are investigating
surface and near-surface characteristics by combining satellite and aerial
photography with remote sensing, ground-penetrating radar, and ground-based
measurements. In cooperation with Regional Sequestration Partnerships, long-
and short-term CO2 monitoring is being conducted at depleted oil wells, saline
aquifers, and coal-bed methane test sites. For example, using ground-penetrating
radar, NETL found extremely low levels of CO2 leakage associated with subsurface
thinning and faulting under the sandy soil at the West Pearl Queen, New Mexico
depleted oil well sequestration test site. NETL registered similar low levels
of leakage using several techniques to monitor the Frio saline aquifer sequestration
test site near Houston, Texas .
A novel technique NETL used at both the West Pearl Queen and Frio sites to monitor
sequestered CO2 is to add chemically inert perfluorocarbon tracer compounds
to the CO2 stream being sequestered, and then detect any resulting tracer emissions
in soil-gas at extremely low concentrations. NETL developed the protocol for
tracer detection and quantification, the soil sampling pump, and several sampling
systems. Other NETL-developed techniques are capable of monitoring fugitive emissions
of non-CO2 greenhouse gases such as methane.
Perfluorocarbon tracers in a syringe pump located in the back of the
NETL van are being added to carbon dioxide as it is injected underground at
the Frio saline aquifer sequestration test site near Houston, Texas.
Partners in these detection efforts include: Brookhaven National Laboratory,
Carnegie Mellon University , Los Alamos National Laboratory, Midwest Geological
Sequestration Consortium, Sandia National Laboratory, Southeast Regional Carbon
Sequestration Partnership, Southwest Regional Partnership for Carbon Sequestration,
and West Virginia University .
NETL's complementary suite of resources for sequestration measurement, monitoring,
and verification (MM&V), referred to as SEQURE, includes:
- Specialized reactor equipment, including an yttrium stabilized zirconia pH
- Airborne and ground-based magnetometry, radiometry, and methanometry surveys
- Remote sensing: Optical, near infrared, thermal infrared and radar regions
- Vertical Seismic Profile (VSP) studies and well-logging data interpretation
- Modeling and testing of tracer/CO2 interactions with reservoir, overlying
strata, and well-sealing cements
- Perfluorocarbon tracers detected in soil-gas at parts-per-quadrillion levels
- Surface well water monitoring
- Radon, methane, and hydrocarbon monitoring in soil-gas
For more information contact: Arthur