STORE at the Austin Forum

Dr. Tip Meckel, Gulf Coast Carbon Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Put It Back: Geologic Sequestration for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions

March 1, 2011 at the Austin Forum

In this talk, Dr. Tip Meckel discusses one of the promising but little known options to reduce atmospheric emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2). Oxidation (by burning) of carbon stored in fossil fuels—coal, oil, gas—has transferred more than 250 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere since 1800. Changes in atmospheric concentration of CO2 show that the rates of emission exceed the rates of uptake, resulting in increases of atmospheric CO2. Fossil fuel reserves and rapidly growing global energy demand suggest that continuation of “business as usual” will result in rapidly increasing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. A variety of risks ranging from increased average temperature to decreased pH of ocean surface water are predicted from this change.

One method of reducing CO2 emissions, while still using fossil fuel resources, is to capture the CO2 from the combustion source before it is released to the atmosphere, and re-inject it into the subsurface of geologic environments similar to those from which it was extracted. This “put it back” process is known as carbon capture and geologic sequestration. Meckel’s research focuses on developing and testing techniques to assure that geologic sequestration sites will retain stored CO2 for geologically significant time periods.

(at right: STORE Director Hilary Olson with Dr. Tip Meckel at the Austin Forum)

Dr. Tip Meckel conducts sequestration research for the Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) at The University of Texas at Austin. He joined the Gulf Coast Carbon Center at BEG in 2006 focusing on geologic characterization, structural geology, monitoring design, and pressure evolution for CO2 injections. Dr. Meckel directs the research program for the Southeast U.S. Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership in Cranfield Mississippi, and leads the Texas research initiative to identify sequestration potential in state offshore lands.

Dr. Meckel earned his master’s degree in geology from the University of Montana in Missoula in 1998, and his doctorate in geology from The University of Texas at Austin in 2003. He subsequently taught undergraduate geology at Colby College in Maine before working with the U.S. Geological Survey as a Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow on subsidence issues in Louisiana.

 

(at left: the Q&A Session with Dr. Meckel after his presentation)