As bad for the planet as CO2 might be, it turns out that it is possible to put it to better use. Thus, scientists now say that, all things considered, it might be possible to use this greenhouse gas to produce electricity, and lock it away in the underground at the same time.
Speaking at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union this past December 13, a team of researchers detailed plans to build a new type of geothermal power plant that would both send CO2 deep in the planet's belly, and use it as a tool to up electricity output.
At said meeting, Jeffrey Bielicki, an assistant professor of energy policy now working with the Ohio State University, explained that one such geothermal power plant would pack several concentric rings of horizontal wells.
These rings would be installed in the underground, and would have CO2, nitrogen and water circulating separately through them.
Their purpose would be to draw heat from the underground, and then send it up to the surface, where it would serve to make turbines turn and thus help produce electricity.
“Typical geothermal power plants tap into hot water that is deep under ground, pull the heat off the hot water, use that heat to generate electricity, and then return the cooler water back to the deep subsurface. Here the water is partly replaced with CO2 or another fluid – or a combination of fluids,” Jeffrey Bielicki said, as cited by Industry Leaders Magazine.
Given the fact that CO2 has been documented to draw heat more effectively than water, the researchers expect that this innovative geothermal plant would have an electricity output some 10 times higher than that conventional facilities of this kind now up and running in the US.
Should this technology be implemented on a large scale, not only would more states across the country be able to harvest geothermal power, but people would also have access to a green energy source that would be much more reliable than wind and solar currently are.