Geologic Sequestration Training and Research (GSTR) -
Recovery Act: Analysis of Microbial Activity Under a Supercritical CO2 Atmosphere
Performer: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Project No: FE0002128
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has researched how microorganisms acclimate and adapt to high partial pressures of CO2 associated with geological carbon storage of supercritical CO2. In its supercritical state, CO2 has the high-density characteristics of a liquid yet behaves like a gas by seeking to fill all the available pore space within the storage medium. An enabling technology for geological carbon storage is the development of reservoir-sealing mechanisms and leak remediation strategies, should they be needed. Biofilm barriers—an aggregate of microorganisms in which cells adhere to each other or a substrate—hold promise as a geologic carbon storage leak mitigation tool. However, establishing such barriers in situ (e.g., following hydrocarbon reservoir decommissioning) requires that biofilm-producing strains remain active underhigh-pressure CO2 conditions (Figure 1).
This project has identified and developed microbial strains capable of activity in supercritical CO2 environments. MIT has characterized the diversity of bacteria capable of surviving in a supercritical CO2 atmosphere and is investigating the molecular mechanism of microbial survivability and stress response in supercritical-CO2-tolerant bacteria through physiological, genomic, and transcriptomic (ribonucleic acid) profiling.