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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Test to store carbon dioxide under seabed to begin off Hokkaido


SAPPORO — The industry ministry will begin tests to capture carbon dioxide emitted from power plants and factories and store it in the seabed off Tomakomai, Hokkaido, as part of efforts to curb global warming, ministry officials said Wednesday.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry plans to begin construction of the test facilities by the end of next March, with an eye to putting them into operation in the fiscal year starting in April 2016.

Development of the so-called carbon capture and storage technology is now led mainly by Norway and the United States, and Japan aims at annually storing more than 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide in the seabed under high pressure during the upcoming experiment.

The plan calls for carbon dioxide emitted from oil refineries in Tomakomai and Muroran, also in Hokkaido, to be captured and shipped via tankers and pipelines to two sandstone beds under the sea.

One of the sandstone beds is 1,100 to 1,200 meters below the ocean floor, and the other is 2,400 to 3,000 meters below the seabed. Both zones have deep layers of mudstone above them that should prevent any carbon dioxide from escaping.

"If the technology is put to practical use, it would help reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions and could be marketed overseas," an official of METI's global environmental partnership and technologies office said.

METI experimented between 2003 and 2005 in storing about 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide under the ground in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, and concluded the gas could be contained safely for at least 1,000 years.

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The Japan Times

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