U of S researcher’s findings change equation for carbon seize, nuclear waste disposal

A take a look at water three kilometres underground suggests extra effort might should go in to evaluating potential storage websites.

College of Saskatchewan engineering professor Grant Ferguson was a part of a workforce finding out historical groundwater within the Paradox Basin, straddling parts of Utah and Colorado.

They measured the age of water discovered about three kilometres underground, and found out that erosion below the riverbed of the Colorado River three to 10 million years in the past allowed million-year-old water to get into a lot older sediments.

You are reading: U of S researcher’s findings change equation for carbon seize, nuclear waste disposal

Q: What does your analysis imply for underground storage of captured carbon or nuclear waste?

A: The idea has been, based mostly on our present understanding, that the water’s mainly been there for the reason that rocks have been put there, proper? In order that’s a whole bunch of hundreds of thousands of years in the past. Whereas on this state of affairs we may see that water, however we may additionally see one thing newer taking place

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So, it’s a protracted timeframe, however when you concentrate on issues like ‘We wish to put carbon dioxide within the floor and retailer it eternally,’ or nevertheless lengthy we predict that is perhaps, or to consider issues like storing nuclear waste, then we do get into these kinds of timeframes the place it’s tens of hundreds or perhaps even 1,000,000 years we wish to do that. So, it’s attention-grabbing that it’s not as stagnant as we thought.

Q: If these websites aren’t as sealed-off as as soon as thought, how will we select appropriate places for storage?

A: This concept that if we will discover areas the place the water hasn’t moved for hundreds of thousands and hundreds of thousands of years then it’s most likely a protected guess —  typically, that’s most likely true. However I feel what this analysis reveals is that that’s not at all times true, proper?

Predicting the long run is tough. It’s as much as our imaginations as geoscientists and engineers and different environmental scientists to consider: ‘Effectively, what may probably occur over the subsequent million years (of storage)?’ if that’s what we’re hoping for. We are able to positively rule some areas out. And that’s how we’ve landed on the few areas the place we’ve chosen for nuclear waste disposal. In Canada, the location’s in Ontario.

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We did have the few (potential websites) in northern Saskatchewan, I feel there was one up by English River, nevertheless it was dominated out as a result of they have been simply too difficult. And I feel that’s what we’re searching for, is easy websites that we will make some conclusive, or near-conclusive judgments on.

Q: What’s the largest problem in your work?

A: The largest factor that we’re up in opposition to right here is we’ve solely received just a few home windows to those deep groundwater provides. Nobody’s giving us the hundreds of thousands of {dollars} that we have to drill devoted wells to do our personal web site investigations. So, we actually are reliant on co-operation from the vitality trade. So the oil and gasoline wells that we will pattern, or deep boreholes.

That’s been our expertise right here in Saskatchewan, too, that the one purpose we learn about these deep techniques is as a result of we will work with the mining trade and the oil and gasoline trade. So, we’re fairly grateful that we’ve these alternatives.

I’ve usually mentioned, with a few of these actually deep techniques, it’s nearly like exploring one other planet. We most likely know extra concerning the floor of the moon than we do about among the issues which can be only some kilometres beneath our ft.

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