Carbon capture and storage (CCS) approaches have been advanced as one method for mitigating carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere. More specifically, CCS is the removal and long-term storage of atmospheric CO2 emissions into carbon storage sinks, such as underground rock layers and terrestrial ecosystems. Often, carbon capture and storage is referred to as “carbon sequestration.” In addition, CCS technologies can be used to enhance oil recovery from depleted oil reservoirs and in this sense, is referred to as carbon capture, utilization and storage, or CCUS.

Climate Change and CO2 Mitigation Strategies

Over the last two hundred years, human activities have altered the earth's atmospheric composition. In addition to the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, certain land use practices, like deforestation, have contributed to an increase in the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N20), and water vapor prevent heat from escaping into space, somewhat like the glass panels of a greenhouse. Scientific data suggests that the increasing concentrations of these atmospheric “greenhouse gases” are raising Earth's temperature above historic levels. Even a small rise in global air temperatures has significant implications for food production systems, ecosystem functionality, and human health. To read more about climate change, read the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report (2015).

There are a variety of strategies for reducing atmospheric CO2 levels including increasing efficiency in transportation and power production, increased use of biofuels, nuclear energy, renewable energy such as wind and solar, carbon sequestration, and biostorage. A combination of multiple strategies will have to be implemented to curb CO2 concentrations. The role of BSCSP and the other Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships is to determine the feasibility, viability, and safety of using carbon capture and storage methods as a means of reducing atmospheric CO2 emissions. To read more about the methods for reducing global CO2 emissions, read the Carbon Mitigation Initiative.

Types of CCS Approaches

Carbon capture and storage can take place in either terrestrial landscapes or geologic environments. Terrestrial CCS involves storing carbon in forests or in the soils of farmland, cropland, rangeland and other organic soils. Alternatively, in geologic CCS, carbon is stored in underground rock formations, such as basalt features, oil and natural gas reservoirs, coal seams, and saline aquifers. Greenhouse gases, such as CO2, can be directly captured at the point of release, transported to a well site, and injected deep underground into the geologic formation.

Learn more about CCS activities in geologic and terrestrial environments, click on the links below:

Geologic Carbon Capture and Storage

Terrestrial Carbon Capture and Storage