What is CO2 Sequestration

Carbon Dioxide


Mount San Gorgonio and San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm

Mount San Gorgonio and San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm


Over the last two hundred years, human activities have altered the earth's atmospheric composition. In addition to the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, certain land use practices, like deforestation, have contributed to an increase in the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere. GHGs, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N20), and water vapor prevent heat from escaping into space, thus resulting in the Greenhouse Gas Effect. Visible sunlight travels through the atmosphere to warm the Earth.  About half of this radiated heat reaches the Earth’s surface.  The heating of the ground causes the Earth’s surface to produce infrared radiation, only a small portion of which makes it back into space because infrared radiation cannot pass as readily through the atmosphere.  As some of the infrared radiation is trapped in the atmosphere, this thermal energy is radiated down to the Earth’s surface.

Nonetheless, without CO2, the planet would be inhospitable, with daily surface temperatures varying by hundreds of degrees. The amount of CO2 in the air had been relatively constant for ten thousand years until the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s.But since then, the world’s population has grown tremendously, as has the use of coal, oil, and natural gas. Because CO2 is a primary product of combustion, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 has been on the rise. At the same time, average temperatures throughout much of the world have inched up and other climatic changes have been documented, indicating a connection between our use of fossil fuels and climatic effects. According to NOAA and NASA data, the Earth's average surface temperature has increased on average by 1.2 to 1.4 °F in the last 100 years. Other aspects of the climate are also changing such as rainfall patterns, snow and ice cover, and sea level. The accumulative effects of these changes are challenging traditional approaches to how people, industries, and governments manage and use the Earth's natural resources.

There are two types of CO2 emission sources: stationary sources and non-stationary sources. Non-stationary source emissions include CO2 emissions from the transportation sector. Stationary source emissions come from a particular, identifiable, localized source, such as a power plant. CO2 from stationary sources can be separated from flue gas emissions and subsequently transported to a CO2 sequestration injection site for subsurface storage.