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Researchers work on ways to generate power from CO2 burial (Nikkei)

世界の気候変動対応投資が減少、景気減速が圧迫TOKYO — Researchers are studying ways to generate “carbon minus” power. The goal is not only to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power generation, but to also reduce total greenhouse gases in the atmosphere through the same processes.

In Cranfield Field outside of Natchez, Mississippi, researchers at the U.S.-based Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are planning an experiment from this autumn that would generate power from CO2 itself. Japan’s Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE) is considering participation in the demonstration test at the defunct oil field.

The system works by injecting CO2 into a 3,200m-deep well. The CO2 becomes ultra-critical when heated by geothermal heat of 125 C. The gas is then brought back to the surface through a different well. Researchers hope to generate power by turbines placed in the path of the gas transfer.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently warned that countries and regions urgently need to reduce greenhouse gasses to combat climate change. The IPCC says that by the end of this century, all CO2 emissions from thermal power plants and factories should be recovered and sequestered underground.

The problem is that carbon sequestration alone is not economically viable. If the RITE experiment and other projects in the works manage to generate power from CO2, this would bode very well for their proliferation.

Together with shale

Tsuyoshi Ishida, professor at Kyoto University, has developed a technology to extract shale gas using ultra-critical CO2. He recently started research on practical use of the technology in collaboration with Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (Jogmec).

According to his idea, CO2 replaces the underground shale gas. Basically, shale gas could be collected while at the same time CO2 could be buried.

Normally, shale gas is extracted by breaking up hard shale rock with high-pressure water. CO2 is more likely to be absorbed by shale rock than shale gas, which helps producers increase shale gas output. The technology is also good at making narrow cracks in the stone across greater lengths than achieved by water.

Kyoto University and Jogmec have accumulated data on lab experiments of shale fracturing and CO2 storage. They aim to experiment with the technology at a shale gas production site abroad from fiscal 2015 or so.


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