CO2 Deserts: Implications of Existing CO2 Supply Limitations for Carbon Management

CO2 Deserts: Implications of Existing CO2 Supply Limitations for Carbon Management

Middleton,Richard S., Clarens,Andres F. , Liu,Xiaowei , Bielicki,Jeffrey M. , and Levine,Jonathan S.

Environmental Science & Technology

DOI: 10.1021/es5022685 • Publication Date (Web): 19 Aug 2014


Efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change will require deep reductions in anthropogenic CO2 emissions on the scale of gigatonnes/yr. CO2 capture and utilization and/or storage technologies are a class of approaches that can substantially reduce CO2 emissions. Even though examples of this approach, such as CO2 enhanced oil recovery, are already being practiced on a scale >0.05 gigatonnes/yr, little attention has been focused on the supply of CO2 for these projects. Here, facility-scale data newly collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was processed to produce the first comprehensive map of CO2 sources from industrial sectors currently supplying CO2 in the United States. Collectively these sources produce 0.16 gigatonnes/yr but the data reveal the presence of large areas without access to CO2 at an industrially relevant scale (>25 kilotonnes/yr). Even though some facilities with the capability to capture CO2 are not doing so and in some regions pipeline networks are being built to link CO2 sources and sinks, much of the country exists in “CO2 deserts”. A life cycle analysis of the sources reveals that the predominant source of CO2, dedicated wells, has the largest carbon footprint further confounding prospects 42 for rational carbon management strategies.

Keywords: carbon management, climate change, sequestration