Assessing the potential for geological carbon sequestration in New York State

Program or topic of research:

Assessing the potential for geological carbon sequestration in New York State

Department or unit:

Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
College of Engineering Energy Institute

Contact Information:

Teresa Jordan
Professor and Faculty Fellow, Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future

Program goals:

To inform decisions regarding climate change and energy policies and actions, New York State needs to know whether it can feasibly store for thousands of years the carbon dioxide emitted from point sources, like coal-fired power plants or concrete plants. Our goal is to assess for the New York State Energy Research & Development (NYSERDA), the power-plant owners, and the public the geological storage capacity within an 11-county region in central New York, based on archived subsurface information.

Brief description:

A simple description of the sedimentary rocks of central New York State contains the elements appropriate to carbon dioxide storage in saline aquifers in sandstone, sealed by salt and shale. However, we find that the opportunities are not favorable for saline aquifer storage units of sufficient volume to make a long-term impact on power plant carbon dioxide emissions, and that have sufficient permeability that injected carbon dioxide would efficiently flow away from an injection well and into the storage space. Two problems underlie the assessment that saline aquifers are not readily available. First, there exists very little data for the deep Cambrian sandstones. With the existing borehole data, which reveals a great deal of heterogeneity of porosity, the amount of storage volume appears to be inadequate. Whereas much more data might alter the assessment of those deep sandstones, to acquire that data would require drilling many extremely costly wells. Second, the more extensive data set for a shallower Ordovician sandstone reveals a more sufficient storage volume but also reveals that its permeability is very low, which shows that the pores are not well interconnected. Given the low permeability, if geological storage of carbon dioxide were deemed to be necessary, some engineered means to interconnect the pores — such as hydraulic fracturing or chemical dissolution — would be needed to enhance the flow rate of the injected carbon dioxide into the saline aquifers.


Key publication:

Tamulonis, K., Jordan, T., and Slater, B., 2011, Carbon dioxide storage potential for the Queentson Formation near the AES Cayuga coal-fired power plant in Tompkins County, New York: Environmental Geosciences, v. 18, no. 1, p. 1-17, doi: 10.1306/eg.05191010005

Category: Carbon credits, sequestration, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Greenhouse gasses, aerosols

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