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BGS to help further carbon dioxide monitoring research at Sutton Bonington

BGS is part of a research project that will consider the feasibility of using quantum gravity sensors to monitor carbon capture and storage sites.

03/08/2021 By BGS Press
Work takes place at the GeoEnergy Testbed (GTB) at Sutton Bonington © BGS / UKRI.
Work takes place at the GeoEnergy Testbed (GTB) at Sutton Bonington © BGS / UKRI.

BGS is part of a three-month research project, set to begin in August 2021, which will consider the feasibility of using quantum gravity sensors to monitor carbon capture and storage (CCS) sites. CCS could provide one way of reducing carbon emissions, key to helping to tackle global warming.

Researchers at the Quantum Technology Hub have been awarded £29 000 from the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre (UKCCSRC) to carry out further research on how quantum gravity sensors can contribute to detecting and monitoring the fate of carbon dioxide (CO2) injected into the subsurface.

The current project will model the gravity gradient signals of the injected CO2 to determine the ability of the cold atom sensors to detect and monitor its migration to the surface. It will aim to investigate how an existing portable cold atom gravity gradiometer could be used to monitor a planned injection of CO2 at the GeoEnergy Test Bed (GTB) at the University of Nottingham’s Sutton Bonington campus, a unique national facility with multisensor technology for CO2 monitoring research.  

It is planned that approximately five tonnes of CO2 will be injected into the Arden Sandstone Formation at a depth of 10–12 m below ground level over a period of weeks. The project will model the gravity gradient signals of the injected CO2 to determine the ability of the cold atom sensors to detect and monitor its migration to the surface.

The GTB was founded by BGS and the University of Nottingham, who will work together to conduct the CO2 injection experiment. BGS is collecting complementary pre-injection sensor data and will generate geophysical images and ground models, which will be made available to the project.

Ceri Vincent of BGS said: ‘The geology at the GTB offers the opportunity to access rocks equivalent to those under the North Sea that are of interest for CO2 storage.

‘Studying the subsurface in detail as the CO2 is injected will improve understanding of processes and mechanisms around CO2 migration in the shallow subsurface and this improved understanding will in turn be used to advance monitoring tools and techniques that could help operators demonstrate site conformance at large-scale storage sites.’

Paul Wilkinson of BGS said: ‘Gravity sensors potentially provide an important CO2 monitoring modality that complements other geophysical techniques such as seismic imaging. This upcoming injection experiment provides an ideal opportunity to test the novel sensors pioneered by the hub in a controlled CO2 injection experiment.’

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