Environmental economists at UAntwerp study the environmental and economic impact of different methods of storing CO2. In the field of Sustainability Engineering, they use innovative assessment methods for this purpose, mapping the environmental impact for each life stage of the technology.
It is common knowledge that CO2 emissions contribute to global warming. UAntwerp researchers are looking for ways to intercept CO2 before it enters the atmosphere. They are studying how to capture, reuse and store CO2.
In the ground with it
For example, we can store CO2 in the ground. This is possible in places with porous sand or rock. At a few kilometres depth, those pores are filled with salt water. We can inject and store CO2 in it, just like oil and natural gas were trapped in such layers for millions of years.
In practice, this technique is not often used because we do not know the deep subsurface well everywhere. Not every site has the right geological features, and these are crucial to avoid potential earthquake risks.
Above all, storing CO2 deep underground also costs a lot of money and there are no direct returns.
It is important to thoroughly research the economic as well as environmental impact of different methods to store CO2.
Learning to recycle
That is why our researchers are also looking at ways to turn CO2 into new products. These could then be sold, which would raise money. At UAntwerp, several technologies are currently being developed to convert CO2 into other substances.
Many of these techniques are still in the lab or demonstration phase. Moreover, such methods require a lot of energy for the time being and only convert relatively small quantities.
Impact on the planet
It is therefore important to thoroughly research the economic as well as environmental impact of different methods. UAntwerp’s environmental economists use innovative assessment methods for this purpose, mapping technical aspects, economic consequences and environmental impact for each life stage of the technology.
This will hopefully soon enable us to motivate governments and companies to capture more CO2, which will in turn benefit our planet and our society.