LCSE PhD student returns from firsthand experience of the carbon injection process in Iceland

Yinghuang running the C14 tracer injection

Yinghuang running the C14 tracer injection

The Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy (LCSE) is pleased to welcome back Doctoral Student Yinghuang Ji, who recently returned from Iceland at the Carbfix geological carbon storage site. Ji’s project, “Tagging Carbon Dioxide to Enable Quantitative Inventories of Geological Carbon Storage” (PI. Klaus Lackner) otherwise known as the C14 project, funded by the US Department of Energy is in collaboration with Orkuveita Reykjavikur (Reykjavikur Energy). The C14 project specifically works on tracer technology for the purpose of monitoring, verification, and accounting (MVA) at the CO2 sequestration site. At Columbia, the C14 project team developed a tagging system, which has been proved to be accurate and effective through laboratory-scale evaluations. The final milestone of the C14 project was the field test in Iceland, which put the tagging system into real use during the underground injection.

As the appeal of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) grows as a technological solution to lessen the impact of excess anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, projects that can demonstrate verifiable MVA of CCUS are essential to building public trust. Yinghuang is really excited to be part of this cutting-edge carbon management research. The trip was a great opportunity for Yinghuang to advance her knowledge of CO2 injection and MVA system of geological carbon storage. Moreover, the fieldwork also provided her hands-on experience in many practical issues, like site characterization and selection, well operation and monitoring, as well as the whole process of carbon sequestration.

Yinghuang taking a bailer sample with a technician from Reykjavic Energy

Yinghuang taking a bailer sample with a technician from Reykjavic Energy

Yinghuang’s path to CCUS has been shaped by her past experiences. “I grew up in a city with the biggest oil field in China (Daqing) and witnessed not only the rapidness of development but also the impacts on the environment that were both brought about by fossil fuels. The aspiration of seeking alternative energy motivated me to pursue my major in energy and power system during collage. However, as I explored further into the energy area, I realized that we are not running out of fossil fuels, the main problem is actually the environmental impact. Therefore I decided to do my research to save our climate.” For Yinghuang, “fossil fuels will keep dominating the global energy consumption mix for at least the next several decades. So, to eliminate climate change while maintaining our standard of life, CCUS is a great need. The implementation of CCUS needs large capital investment and strong government regulations. I am optimistic about the research effort and look forward to seeing scaled-up progress on CCUS in the US and worldwide.”