Carbon capture storage safety: How our engineers make it happen

Nov. 18, 2021

When Dr. Ganesh Dasari was a doctoral candidate at Cambridge University, he didn’t know that his passion for civil engineering would steer him toward becoming a leading expert in carbon storage technologies.

Today, he is part of a team of geoscientists and engineers at ExxonMobil who are finding new ways to safely store carbon underground. The technologies they’re developing today could shape the future of large-scale carbon storage projects around the world.

Dr. Dasari and the team are busy finding safe and secure geologic locations to store CO2 in US, Europe, and Asia. The projects include CCS hubs in Houston, Louisiana Pecan Island, Malaysia and Indonesia. The team is developing a safe process to inject CO2 thousands of feet under the earth’s surface into carefully selected geological formations where it can be permanently stored. Once underground, the CO2 is initially held in place by a thick seal rock and it gradually transforms into solid minerals.

ExxonMobil and other companies believe a large-scale development of CCS in Houston could store up to 50 million metric tons per year of CO2 by 2030 and double that amount by 2040.

Energy Factor spoke with Dr. Dasari to better understand how CO2 storage sites are carefully and rigorously selected. As a leader in locating potential CO2 storage sites for our carbon capture and storage projects, Dr. Dasari is an authority on safety considerations in carbon storage planning.

Keeping carbon capture secure

Check out all the key factors, including the traits for safe storage, that Dr. Dasari and his team consider when searching for the right places to store CO2  underground. 

Depth

"Any formation chosen for CO2  storage will be at least 2,700 feet to 4,000 feet underground and is sometimes as deep as 18,000 feet, posing little risk to people. This is far enough beneath the surface to prevent interaction with the water table, which is in the top 500 feet."

Pressure

"The CO2  will be pressurized to increase its density by 300 to 500 times so a large amount of CO2   can be stored in a relatively small area."

Location

"The injection sites will be far enough away from fault lines and earthquake-prone areas to eliminate the risk that CO2  will migrate to other formations."

Seal

"The injected CO2  will be held in place by thick, impermeable seal rocks, which are similar to the rocks that have kept oil and gas underground for millions of years."