Scientists are working on a smart collar that could help detect CO2 sequestration leaks. The new device is being developed by engineers at Sandia National Laboratories.
“What is special about this technology is that we’ll be monitoring it wirelessly and thus won’t create another potential path for leakage like a wire or fiber,” said Andrew Wright, Sandia electrical engineer and project lead.
As part of CO2 sequestration, the carbon is usually stored 3,000 to 12,000 underground in an area that used to contain oil, gas, or water, he said. A hole would be drilled throug a layer of rock called cap rock that can prevent carbon from leaking. Once full, the borehole would be plugged, and in some cases, the trapped carbon dioxide will permanently bind with the rock.
The team behind the new device, led by geoscientist David Chapman at the University of Texas at Austin, will work on embedding tiny carbon sensors (about 1/8 by 1/8 of an inch) in the concrete around the borehole above and below the cap rock.
Sandia will make the smart collar that charges the carbon sensors, receives information from them about the presence or absence of carbon dioxide, and sends this information to operators at the surface level. The device needs to work for 20 to 40 years, Wright said.
The Sandia engineers recently successfully showed the device prototype powering and communicating with Radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips installed in an inch of cement. In order for the smart collar to last for decades, the scientists created the prototype to use supercapacitors rather than batteries to store power. As the next stage of the process, the team will test the device prototype with Caltech’s carbon dioxide sensing chips.