Development and Deployment of a Compact Eye-Safe Scanning Differential Absorption Lidar (DIAL) for Spatial Mapping of Carbon Dioxide for Monitoring/Verification/Accounting at Geologic Carbon Sequestration Sites


Montana State University

Award Number:  FE0001156
Project Duration:  10/01/2009 – 03/31/2014
Total Award Value:  $515,246.00
DOE Share:  $405,119.00
Performer Share:  $110,127.00
Technology Area:  Carbon Storage
Key Technology: 

Project Description

The DIAL instrument is designed to perform near-surface mapping of CO2 number densities for MVA to determine possible CO2 leakage to the atmosphere at geologic carbon storage sites. Development of the CO2 DIAL will build on Montana State University’s (MSU) expertise in developing compact, low-power, high-repetition-rate DIAL instruments for atmospheric studies. Horizontal testing of the CO2 DIAL instrument has already been conducted to determine its performance at the Zero Emissions Research Technology (ZERT) field site during a controlled release experiment. MSU is currently working with the Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership to deploy the CO2 DIAL at the Kevin Dome large-scale carbon storage demonstration project site.

Project Benefits

The overall goal of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carbon Storage Program is to develop and advance technologies that will significantly improve the effectiveness of geologic carbon storage, reduce the cost of implementation, and prepare for widespread commercial deployment between 2020 and 2030. Research conducted to develop these technologies will ensure safe and permanent storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions without adversely affecting energy use or hindering economic growth.

Geologic carbon storage involves the injection of CO2 into underground formations that have the ability to securely contain the CO2 permanently. Technologies being developed for geologic carbon storage are focused on five storage types: oil and gas reservoirs, saline formations, unmineable coal seams, basalts, and organic-rich shales. Technologies being developed will work towards meeting carbon storage programmatic goals of (1) estimating CO2 storage capacity +/- 30 percent in geologic formations; (2) ensuring 99 percent storage permanence; (3) improving efficiency of storage operations; and (4) developing Best Practices Manuals. Developing and deploying these technologies on a large scale will require a significantly expanded workforce trained in various carbon capture and storage (CCS) technical and non-technical disciplines that are currently under-represented in the United States. Education and training activities are needed to develop a future generation of geologists, scientists, and engineers who possess the skills required for implementing and deploying CCS technologies.

Monitoring, verification, accounting (MVA), and assessment efforts are designed to confirm permanent storage of CO2 in geologic formations, both onshore and offshore, through multilevel monitoring programs that are both reliable and cost-effective. Monitoring is an important aspect of CO2 injection and storage because it focuses on a number of permanence issues. Onshore monitoring technologies are developed for surface (atmospheric), near-surface (underground source of drinking water formations), and subsurface (injection and confining zones) applications to ensure that injection and abandoned wells are structurally sound and that CO2 will not endanger sources of drinking water. Since Federal and State GHG regulations or emission trading programs have been developed, monitoring has gained importance as a means to ensure CO2 has been safely and permanently stored underground. The location of the injected CO2 plume in the underground formation can also be determined, via monitoring, to satisfy operating requirements for onshore storage under EPA’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) program and GHG reporting programs, to ensure that potable groundwater and ecosystems are protected. This project is developing, testing, and deploying a scanning eye-safe diode laser-based Differential Absorption Lidar (DIAL; LIDAR = Laser Induced Differential Absorption Radar).

Successful surface monitoring at geologic carbon storage sites requires low-cost instrumentation capable of covering large areas for extended periods. The DIAL instrument will be capable of producing range-resolved CO2 number density maps with the ability to monitor several square kilometers at a resolution on the order of 100 m. If successful, the DIAL instrument could be adapted to map CO2 concentrations over a wide surface area, thereby facilitating the identification of potential leakage points. Also, the DIAL instrument can be repeatedly scanned to provide the measurements over extended time intervals. As it will be portable and have minimal power requirements, the DIAL instrument will be easily incorporated into existing and future carbon storage efforts. Furthermore, the scanning DIAL will be an eye-safe instrument. The successful completion of this project therefore has the potential to advance the technology development needed for successful geologic carbon storage, and further the Carbon Storage Division Programmatic goal of ensuring 99 percent CO2 storage permanence.


The overall project goal is to develop, test, and deploy a scanning, compact, eye-safe diode laser-based DIAL instrument for near-surface mapping of CO2 number densities. This tool will assist MVA of CO2 at geologic carbon storage sites over large areas for extended periods. Specific project objectives are:

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager 
William Aljoe:
Technology Manager 
Traci Rodosta:
Principal Investigator 

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