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Technology tracks carbon dioxide

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Development serves as an important tool for the federal government

By Susan M. Bryan

ALBUQUERQUE — Scientists have developed a method for detecting and tracking carbon dioxide deep underground, giving the federal government an important tool as people look for ways to keep carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from crowding the atmosphere.

Scientists working with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory used colorless, nontoxic liquids called perflourocarbon tracers to essentially fingerprint carbon dioxide that was injected into a coal seam in northwestern New Mexico.

They followed the carbon dioxide’s movement by tracking the tracers.

Using the tracers would help eliminate some of the uncertainty surrounding carbon capture and sequestration, said Brian Strazisar, a physical scientist at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh.

“There is going to be some sort of requirement that we verify that the carbon dioxide is going where we expect it to and that it’s not going back into the atmosphere or into geologic zones that weren’t intended. The tracers help with that,” he said.


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