With roughly one-third of the United States’ carbon emissions coming from power plants and other large polluters, it makes sense that you would want to figure out what to do with all that carbon dioxide that is clouding up the atmosphere, right? I guess you could put it underground, but then how will you know where it’s going, and whether or not it’s polluting the water? Well, it seems that the problem has been solved.
Scientists working with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory injected about 18,400 tons of carbon dioxide into a coal layer 3,000 feet below the surface of Aztec, New Mexico. Using colorless, nontoxic liquids called perflourocarbon tracers, they were able to basically fingerprint the carbon dioxide, allowing for them to follow it as it moved.
Brian Strazisar, a physical scientist at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh, says that using tracers would eliminate some of the uncertainty that surrounds carbon capture and sequestration. “There is going to be some sort of requirement that we verify that the carbon dioxide is going where we expect it to and that it’s not going back into the atmosphere or into geologic zones that weren’t intended. The tracers help with that.”
I don’t know about you, but something just doesn’t seem right about injecting toxic gas into the earth. It’s like we’re just polluting it in a different manner, hiding the problem so it’s not out in the open. A “out of sight, out of mind” mentality isn’t going to fix pollution. The elimination of carbon emissions is the only thing that is going to stop carbon dioxide from leaking into our atmosphere, but in order to do that, we need to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. As long as it remains big business, though, that won’t be happening any time soon. No matter how many oil spills there are.