Project will assess the storage potential of shale, sandstone, basalt, and argillite in the Paraná Basin for CO2 captured at the Jorge Lacerda complex

The FAPESP Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI) is beginning a study of rocks in the region surrounding the Jorge Lacerda Thermoelectric Complex, in the southeast of the State of Santa Catarina, for the purpose of learning if they can be used to story CO2. Coordinated by Professor Colombo Tassinari, an RCGI researcher and instructor in the University of São Paulo’s Institutes of Energy and Environment (IEE/USP) and of Geosciences (IGc/USP), the project is driven by a partnership between the IEE/USP with the Brazilian Coal Association (ABCM), which is looking for policies and technologies that diminish the CO2 emissions by the coal used in the Thermoelectric Plants.

“They came to us at the IEE, when they heard that we were working on assessing geological material for carbon storage, because they are developing systems for capturing CO2 at the emission sources. The captured gas needs places that are close by, in order to be stored. The coal-powered plants emit more CO2 than those powered by fuel oil e natural gas,” Tassinari said.

The complex has three power plants: Jorge Lacerda A, with two units generating 50 MW and two generating 66 MW each; Jorge Lacerda B, with two units generating 131 MW each; and Jorge Lacerda C, with one unit generating 363 MW, for a total of 857 MW. They emit particulate materials, nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulfur dioxide (SO2).

The project began with the selection of geologist Maria Rogieri Pelissari, with a study scholarship. She is in the IEE’s Master’s Program in Energy, where she is beginning to classify the sedimentary rocks around the Thermoelectric complex, which have potential for storing the CO2 emitted by the power plants.

“We will study shale, sandstone, basalt, and argillite from a variety of geological formations that are the closest to the thermoelectric complex. The area is in the Paraná Sedimentary Basin, although the complex is not located on top of it,” the geologist and IEE professor explained, who is also the coordinator of the RCGI’s Project 36 (Storage of Carbon in Geological Reservoirs in Brazil: Perspectives for CCSS it Non-conventional onshore Petroleum Reservoirs and in offshore Sedimentary Basins in Southeast Brazil).

According to him, those rock formations are at different depths and have differing characteristics. “In order to check on the feasibility of using them for carbon repositories, various types of analyses must be performed of each one, as well as geological studies. In Maria Pelissari’s Master’s studies, we will focus more on shale, where field samples will be taken for later analysis. As for the storage potential of the other rock types, we will approach it mainly based on the data in the existing literature.”

He says that among the rock formations selected, shale has been studied very little in terms of CO2 storage and it has the advantage of being the only one that can retain CO2 without needing the coverage of other rocks. “Sandstone, basalt, and argillite are only able to store carbon if there are traps, like the presence of sealing rocks that inhibit the leakage of the stored CO2. Shale, because it contains organic material, and argillite, which absorbs CO2, have the power to retain injected CO2 for a long time, without needing sealing rocks.”

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology is one of the solutions indicated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate (IPCC) for mitigating the gas emissions that cause a greenhouse effect. It consists of capturing the CO2, its compression, transport, and injection to reservoirs in geological sites for permanent storage.

Image: Martin Brechtl – Unsplash