Direct Experiments on the Ocean Disposal
of Fossil Fuel CO2.

Peter G. Brewer and Edward T. Peltzer
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute


Franklyn M. Orr, Jr
Stanford University

This paper was prepared for presentation at the 2001 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition held in New Orleans, LA, Sept. 30-Oct. 3, 2001.


Substantial progress has been made in carrying out small-scale field experiments to investigate the scientific basis for disposal of CO2 that results from burning of fossil fuels in the deep ocean. A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was used to carry liter quantities of CO2 to depths from 250 to 3650 m in the ocean and to release the CO2 in a controlled manner. A video imaging system allowed observation of the behavior of the CO2 released. CO2 released at intermediate depths forms bubbles that rise. Below about 2750 m liquid CO2 is more dense than sea water, and CO2 released at greater depths descends further. Hydrate formation was observed for depths below about 350 m. We show through video imagery, direct measurement, and model calculations that the dissolution rate of liquid CO2 in the deep ocean is 3 μmoles/cm²/sec. The slow dissolution rate limits the local concentration of CO2. Limited observations of the approach of marine life to CO2 released on the sea floor showed no apparent avoidance reactions.

© 1999 Society of Petroleum Engineers Inc.


This work was supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation through a grant to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. The authors are deeply indebted to the officers and crews of the R/V Point Lobos and the R/V Western Flyer, the pilots of the ROV Ventana and the ROV Tiburon, and the MBARI Operations group for their skilled technical support.

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