Publication Date

2015-12-16

Availability

Embargoed

Embargo Period

2017-12-15

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry (Marine)

Date of Defense

2015-09-23

First Committee Member

Peter K. Swart

Second Committee Member

Elliot L. Atlas

Third Committee Member

William T. Anderson

Fourth Committee Member

Gregor P. Eberli

Fifth Committee Member

Daniel D. Riemer

Abstract

Economic growth since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution has been unprecedented and improved the lives of billions, though not without a cost. Anthropogenic CO2 emissions have perturbed the global carbon cycle, driving rapid climate change that is forecasted to be economically devastating to many regions while exterminating delicate ecosystems and countless species. Despite the unappealing political and economic impacts of halting fossil fuel consumption, an immediate answer is truly needed. To stave off these disastrous outcomes requires a rapid response to greenhouse gas emissions that future technologies, no matter how promising, are not yet ready to engage. Carbon capture, utilization, and storage is a unique technological approach that minimally tempers economic growth while squelching carbon emissions. The technology to inject and store carbon in deep reservoirs has been tested and developed for decades, but for widespread implementation comprehensive monitoring frameworks are required to ensure the projects are economically and environmentally effective, as well as safe for surrounding surface communities. In this dissertation, a new optical approach to isotope ratio analysis, cavity ringdown spectroscopy, is vetted to ensure it has the requisite analytical performance and is optimized for long-term monitoring deployment. Background biological activity that may mask leakage signals is examined in the context of local geography, meteorology, and hydrology to best constrain background noise. In the first extended field test of its kind, a statistical scheme is developed that exceeds modeled signal-to-noise ratios by nearly an order of magnitude. When injection activity is initiated, it is possible to compare current to background values and track how injection alters the soil gas and atmospheric CO2 systems. The sampling array can directionally locate the source of this new carbon and estimate the rate of release we observe. This singular data set informs how monitoring should proceed at present and future sites to ensure carbon sequestration actualizes its full potential as prototype for unified environmental and economic progress.

Keywords

Carbon Capture; Cavity Ringdown Spectroscopy; Stable Isotopes; Carbon Dioxide

Available for download on Friday, December 15, 2017

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