Geologic Carbon Containment

Advancing Permanent Geologic Carbon Containment Methods

The CC Lab is currently investigating options for carbon storage in the U.S. via geologic storage and mineralization. Carbon mineralization is the process by which CO2 becomes a solid mineral, such as a carbonate, and is therefore permanently stored. For instance, CO2 left to interact with basalt has been shown to mineralize in as few as two years.1 Experiments suggest that through the process of CO2 mineralization, one cubic kilometer of basalt can permanently store as much as 47 million MTCO2e.2

The Carbon TrapRock Project

Through its Carbon TrapRock project, the CC Lab is currently investigating the potential to help develop a portfolio of low-cost injection wells to store carbon permanently and safely deep in the Columbia River Basalt Group (“CRBG”).3 The CRBG spans 210,000 km2 across the Pacific Northwest. Its basalt composition, as well as its large size, make it well-suited for large-scale CO2 geological storage — with the potential of sequestering up to 100 billion MTCO2e.4

Map of the Columbia River Basalt Group. Source: USGS. 
 
The size and unique properties of the CRBG make the area an attractive place to inject carbon. The Carbon Trap- Rock project also aligns with the climate and energy goals of the Pacific Northwest region; Washington and Oregon have plans to become carbon net-neutral by 2045 and 2050, respectively. The project also has potential to mitigate severe wildfire risk through biomass removal and carbon capture and spur economic development in predominantly rural areas. Given these considerations, this area and method is ripe for investigation and investment.
 
The CC Lab is currently conducting scoping studies for the Carbon TrapRock project to better understand:
  • The science and speed of the mineralization process
  • The CRBG resource from the perspective of carbon storage
  • The regional potential of sourcing, capturing and transporting CO2
  • Permitting processes, policies and incentives
  • The environmental, economic and social impacts and benefits across the lifecycle of the project.

As the Carbon TrapRock project is potentially large, the CC Lab is assembling a team of advisors and entrepreneurs that will support its development. In addition, the CC Lab is beginning to investigate storage opportunities in other geologic formations and regions across the U.S.

Existing analyses estimate that the CRBG has the potential to permanently store between 10 and 100 billion MTCO2e.

Graphic of the cycle of geologic carbon containment.  Carbon cycle for the CC Lab’s “Carbon TrapRock” geologic carbon containment project

[1] White et al. 2020 Quantification of CO2 Mineralization at the Wallula Basalt Pilot Project. Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.0c05142
[2] Xiong et al. 2018. CO2 Mineral Sequestration in Naturally Porous Basalt Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 5 (3), pp. 142– 147.
[3] According to the U.S. Geologic Survey, CRBG is “the youngest, smallest and one of the best-preserved continental flood basalt provinces on Earth, covering over 210,000 km2 of mainly eastern Oregon and Washington, western Idaho, and part of northern Nevada”. USGS, 2020, https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/cascades-volcano-observatory/columbia…
[4] McGrail et al.2006. Potential for carbon dioxide sequestration in flood basalts. Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 111, B12201.