The Carbon Capture and Sequestration Technologies Program at MIT conducts research into technologies to capture, utilize, and store CO2 from large stationary sources. Initiated in 1989, our program is internationally recognized as a leader in this field. A major component of the program is the Carbon Sequestration Initiative, an industrial consortium launched in July 2000.
Our research examines carbon sequestration from multiple perspectives, including technical, economic, and political. Current research interests include technology assessments, economic modeling, analysis of regulatory and political aspects, and development of a Carbon Management Geographic Information System (GIS).
To complement our research, we have a strong commitment to stakeholder outreach and education. As such, we hold an annual Carbon Sequestration Forum each fall. Other current outreach activities include participation in the IPCC Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage and the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum.
Carbon sequestration is a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It complements two other major approaches for greenhouse gas reduction, namely improving energy efficiency and increasing use of non-carbon energy sources. Interest has been increasing in the carbon sequestration option because it is very compatible with the large energy production and delivery infrastructure now in place. All three approaches will need to make significant contributions in order to meet the objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, that is the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
There are two primary types of carbon sequestration. Our program focuses on carbon dioxide capture and storage, where carbon dioxide is captured at its source (e.g., power plants, industrial processes) and subsequently stored in non-atmospheric reservoirs (e.g., depleted oil and gas reservoirs, unmineable coal seams, deep saline formations, deep ocean). The other type of carbon sequestration focuses on enhancing natural processes to increase the removal of carbon from the atmosphere (e.g., forestation). A more detailed overview is contained in [Encyclopedia of Energy (2004)].