September 19, 2009 (San Diego)--Congressman Bob Filner (D-San Diego) announced that a $299,993 Recovery Act grant has been awarded to San Diego State University (SDSU) Research Foundation through the U.S. Department of Energy. Funds will be used for a web-based carbon dioxide (CO2) subsurface modeling project and will create training opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to develop skills for implementing and deploying carbon capture and storage technologies.
“If we are serious about cutting greenhouse gas emissions, then we need trained scientists to find ways to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired utilities,” said Filner. “This funding for SDSU carbon capture research is the key to making so-called ‘clean coal’ a potential reality.”
The SDSU web-based CO2 subsurface modeling project will build a comprehensive simulator to model carbon injection into sequestration sites. Specifically, the project seeks to understand how carbon sequestration into a water-filled reservoir would affect the subsurface based on resulting chemical reactions.
Carbon capture sequestration is the process of storing carbon underground to reduce the accumulation of C02 in the atmosphere. About 70% of America's commercial electricity is derived from fossil fuels, which produce 40% of our annual C02 emission when combusted, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Carbon capture has the potential to reduce those emissions, however critics contend that the process is unproven and that more research is needed to assure that carbon sequestrian won't harm the environment or communities over the long term. Some environmentalists contend that "clean coal" is an oxymoron.
During transportation and after storage underground, a sudden or slow leak of C02 could pose serious risks including asphyxiation, contamination of drinking water, destruction of plants and animals, and earthquakes, the Sierra Club cautions, citing scientific sources to bolster its arguments. In addition, additional energy must be expended on the storage and transportation of C02. Nor does carbon capture address other problems caused by coal, such as environmental damage from strip-mining.
"Under almost any scenario, coal-fired electricity with captured and stored CO2 will be an expensive and energy-intensive proposition," the Sierra Club states on its website at www.sierraclub.org/energy. "As a nation, we should focus our resources on seizing the cheapest, cleanest, quickest, most reliable methods to displace carbon emissions while meeting our energy needs."