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Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage

Efforts to slow or stop global warming involve many strategies working together.

One strategy is to counterbalance carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that contribute to climate change by drawing an equal amount of carbon out of the atmosphere -- such as through planting trees or using carbon capture and storage technologies.

Carbon capture utilization and storage involves trapping CO2 where it is produced at factories and fossil-fuel-burning power plants so that the greenhouse gas isn’t released into the air.

The gas is then transported to sites where it can be beneficially used and/or permanently disposed in porous, subsurface rocks by way of injection wells.

Experts agree that mitigating climate change requires a portfolio of technical approaches that will work together to eliminate carbon emissions from power, industry, and other sectors of the economy.

Carbon capture and storage will be a vital component of this effort due to the large storage volumes it can offer relative to some of the other approaches.


As carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from industrial, manufacturing, and fossil-fuel-burning sources build up in the Earth’s atmosphere, there is a warming effect that is changing our climate.


Technology exists and is already in use that captures carbon dioxide produced during power generation, industrial, and manufacturing processes.

CO2 gas must be separated from other gases and processed before it can be transported (ordinarily by pipelines) for beneficial use or permanent storage.


Once the CO2 gas is captured and processed, it becomes a useful resource for certain energy and manufacturing activities.

A common example is CO2-enhanced recovery, where the gas is pumped into an underground reservoir -- pushing the remaining oil to nearby production wells.

This process not only increases oil production at the wellhead; but it also frees up pore space in the reservoir rock to provide for injected CO2 to remain underground -- thereby offering geologic storage.


Storage involves sending the processed and refined carbon dioxide deep underground. Once stored a half-mile or more below ground surface, CO2 becomes denser and behaves more like a liquid.

Pennsylvania has geologic resources in the western and northern portions of the state that could be used for beneficial use or permanent storage of CO2.

What's more, in some places, storage prospects exist at different depths, which offers potential stacked carbon storage opportunities.

These geologic intervals include depleted/depleting oil and gas reservoirs and saline formations.

DCNR’s Role in Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage

DCNR has been engaged on the topic of carbon capture utilization and storage for nearly 20 years.

During this time, work by DCNR’s Bureau of Geological Survey, which seeks to further our understanding of the state’s geologic resources, has included:

  • Assessments of numerous underground geologic resources that have potential to serve as reservoirs where carbon dioxide could be safely stored

  • Case study evaluations of existing oil fields where CO2-enhanced recovery efforts may be employed

  • Participation in multi-state coalitions to guide seamless consideration of geologic storage options across state lines and throughout the Appalachian and Mid-Atlantic region of the United States

Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage Studies

Twenty years of investigations and reporting by the Bureau of Geological Survey includes the following studies:

The DCNR Bureau of Geological Survey continues to conduct applied research focused on proving and promoting geologic carbon storage in Pennsylvania and neighboring states.

DCNR participates in a newly-formed consortium of 20 northeastern states that seeks to provide focused research on carbon storage and sequestration efforts; and related transportation needs in between for the midwest to northeastern United States.