South Hills lab makes tools to test carbon capture
Using technology developed at a federal energy laboratory in Pittsburgh's South Hills, scientists were able to track whether carbon dioxide stored underground escaped and mixed with atmosphere's greenhouse gases, a federal researcher said.
Scientists were able to improve detection of carbon dioxide in underground storage by using ultrasensitive instruments to detect tracers added to the gas, said Brian Strazisar, a scientist at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in South Park. The movement of carbon dioxide — tested at a New Mexico pilot project — could be followed with the instruments developed at the lab in South Park.
Capturing carbon dioxide from pollution sources such as coal-fired power plants and factory smokestacks and storing it underground is seen as one way of reducing emissions that some scientists say are linked to global warming.
"We're leading the carbon capture and sequestration program for the whole federal government," said David Anna, a spokesman for the National Energy Technology Laboratory at South Park.
The lab administers $150 million spent annually to develop technology, infrastructure and regulations to implement large-scale projects to store carbon dioxide in coal, natural gas, oil and saline rock formations in the U.S. and Canada, the Department of Energy said.
From the lessons learned at the New Mexico site, researchers can determine whether carbon dioxide, with the tracers added, is seeping from where it is stored underground, said John Litynski, coordinator for partnerships working on carbon capture and storage.
"We can tell the difference between the natural carbon dioxide (in the atmosphere) and the injected" carbon dioxide, Strazisar said. That would help to eliminate some of the uncertainty surrounding carbon capture and sequestration, he added.
One of the instruments developed for the program won a R&D Magazine Top 100 award for inventions in 2009, and a patent is pending, Strazisar said. The special instruments can find the tracers underground in amounts as low as four parts per quadrillion.
"It will help us better understand where carbon dioxide is moving underground when we inject it," said Sean McCoy, manager of the Carbon Capture and Sequestration Regulatory Project at Carnegie Mellon University in Oakland. McCoy was not involved in the project in New Mexico.
The partnerships have implemented at least 25 small-scale geologic storage test sites, which are designed to demonstrate the potential to store thousands of years worth of carbon dioxide emissions underground, the Energy Department said.
There are no carbon storage sites in Pennsylvania, Strazisar said, but there are two in Ohio: near Cincinnati and south of Shadyside, which is about eight miles south of Wheeling, W.Va.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Apollo-Ridge hires physics teacher
- Route 28 accident victim suffered ‘moderate’ injury; expressway reopens after 5.5 hours
- Mt. Pleasant Little League set for sectionals
- Donora out to rescue school building
- Charleroi council mulls Coyle takeover
- Highmark to switch its workers to high-deductible insurance plans
- King of Outlaws Kinser seeks crown in return to Lernerville
- Chinese hackers crack database of federal workers, contractors
- Volquez goes distance as Pirates roll to victory over Cardinals
- Bayer produces blast-resistant safety glass for U.S. embassies
- BeeGraphix pulls off Grebb League upset