A new paper in the journal Environmental Science and Technology argues that, all things considered, it might be possible to reduce environmental pollution and limit global warming by pumping some of the carbon dioxide human society produces into the underground.
Specifically, researchers say that, according to their estimates, Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale geological formation has the potential to store some 10-18 gigatons of carbon dioxide once workers are done stripping it of the methane it presently contains.
These 10-18 gigatons represent 50% of the carbon dioxide that stationary sources in the US are expected to produce between the years 2018-2030.
Scientists reached the conclusion that this much carbon dioxide could be stored in the Marcellus Shale alone after piecing together information concerning how much methane has thus far been extracted from this geological formation, and how much methane is expected to be extracted in the years to come.
Given the fact that said country is home to several other large shale formations, figuring out a way to use them to store CO2 might not be such a bad idea, the specialists who worked on this project argue.
“Right now, we are emitting huge levels of carbon dioxide, and we need new ideas on ways to store the waste,” explains specialist Andres Clarens with the University of Virginia's School of Engineering and Applied Science.
“This would be a way of eating our cake and having it too. We can drill the shale, pump out the gas and pump in the carbon dioxide,” he adds, as cited by Science Daily.
Andres Clarens and his colleagues argue that, all things considered, future investigations must be carried out in order to determine what the financial, political and logistical implications of one such project could be.
“There are a lot of people who say we need to get away from carbon-based fuels, and that may be possible in a few decades, but right now, fossil fuels power everything. Finding ways to harvest these non-conventional fossil fuel sources without contributing to climate changes is a difficult but important challenge,” Andres Clarens stresses.