Previous studies have shown that bulk CO2 injection in deep saline aquifers supplies insufficient aquifer storage efficiency and causes excessive risk due to aquifer pressurization. To avoid pressurization, we propose to produce the same volume of brine as is injected as CO2 in a CO2-brine displacement. Previous work showed that this increases the storage efficiency from 2% to 8%. However, this transforms the CO2 storage problem into a brine disposal problem. Therefore, we propose to desalinate the native brine and inject the saturated brine into the same aquifer while producing additional brine to maintain voidage balance.

A hypothetical case study using documented aquifer properties of the Woodbine aquifer in Texas indicates that the available volume is insufficient volume to store all of the CO2 being generated by power plants in the vicinity for more than 14 years. However, the CO2-brine displacement increases storage efficiency enough to store the CO2 produced for 84 years at the current rate of coal fired electric power generation. Using the reported brine salinity of the Woodbine aquifer, the energy requirements for CO2 transport and injection, brine production and transport, desalination, and saturated brine injection are estimated consistent with assumptions about the location of injection and production wells, the desalination unit or units, and whether desalinated water can be used by the power plant or for other uses.

While this approach may enable CO2 storage, the high energy cost ranging from 7.5% to 16% of the total power generation capacity is not insignificant, and comes with significant land use implications for injection and production wells, pipelines, etc. The importance of these results cannot be overstated.

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