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Mar 272012

From Yale 360

The fracturing of shale rock formations associated with the drilling process known as fracking might undermine future attempts to store carbon dioxide underground, according to a new study.

While many have called carbon storage a promising solution to reducing atmospheric levels of greenhouse gas emissions — by essentially pumping captured CO2 into deep, permeable geological formations — Princeton University researcher Michael Celia says that process would only work if there is a layer of impermeable caprock to prevent the CO2 from escaping.

But according to his study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, about 80 percent of the U.S. areas suited for carbon storage overlap with regions of potential shale-gas production.

The hydraulic fracturing of those shale-gas areas involves blasting a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals deep underground to shatter the shale formations and free the natural gas trapped within. While it is unclear how much of the potential storage volume would be lost, shale gas drilling could “significantly affect” the sequestration capacity for carbon storage operations, the study said.