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From left, Stephen Kresovich, Camelia Knapp, Dr. John Shafer and James Knapp at the grant announcement.
From left, Stephen Kresovich, Camelia Knapp, Dr. John Shafer and James Knapp at the grant announcement.

$4.9 million grant to address storage of carbon dioxide

A $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to the University of South Carolina will determine the feasibility of storing carbon dioxide underground in an effort to curb global climate change.

The funding, which will go to researchers from the university’s Earth Sciences and Resources Institute (ESRI) and department of earth and ocean sciences, is one of only 11 national awards from DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. The grants are valued at $75.5 million and are aimed at understanding whether CO2 – a greenhouse gas believed to be a culprit in climate change – can be safely stored in geologic formations, including abandoned oil and gas reservoirs, coal beds and underground reservoirs of salt water, also called deep saline aquifers.

Carolina’s three-year grant will focus on the South Georgia Rift (SGR) basin, where deep saline aquifers exist in Colleton, Beaufort and Jasper counties, said Dr. John Shafer, ESRI-SC director and the grant’s principal investigator.

“Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas,” he said. “If we can find a viable way to capture carbon dioxide and store it safely underground for centuries, then we can perhaps reduce the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere”.

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$4.9 million DOE grant

  • What: Department of Energy grant to university for purpose of studying feasibility of storing carbon dioxide underground
  • Why: Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas, and safe storage of it out of the earth's atmosphere would, it is believed, lessen global warming
  • Who: John Shafer, ESRI-SC director, is the grant’s principal investigator.
  • Who else: Carolina researchers Michael Waddell of ESRI and James Knapp and Camelia Knapp of the department of earth and ocean sciences, plus the S.C. Geological Survey, the University of Illinois, Weatherford Laboratories of Houston and Bay Geophysical Inc. of Traverse City, Mich.

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