Innovative energy project set to use cosmic rays for monitoring CO2 storage sites

A research consortium involving Newcastle University has won government and industry funding to develop a novel technique using cosmic rays for monitoring storage sites for carbon dioxide.

Geoscientists, particle physicists and engineers will work together to examine the potential of using muons -sub-atomic particles from cosmic rays- which cascade from the upper atmosphere and go on to penetrate rock several kilometres underground.

The detection of cosmic ray muons can be used to map the density profile of the material above the detectors and hence measure on-going levels of CO2 in any potential carbon store.

The team is being led by Durham University and involves Newcastle, Sheffield and Bath universities, the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech supported by Premier Oil & Gas and Cleveland Potash Limited.

The Department of Energy & Climate Change is providing £647,000 for the monitoring project alongside matched funding from industry.

Carbon storage could play a major part of UK and global environmental policies to tackle global warming but still allow us to generate clean, affordable energy.