Evaluation of new technology for carbon dioxide submarine storage in glass capsules

Significance Statement

In view of the Paris agreement (UNFCCC, 2015), interest for technologies that can guarantee stable greenhouse gases emission reduction and negative ones in the case of capture of biogenic carbon dioxide has continued to grow. Many researchers have highlighted that to meet the requirements of the climate international policy signed in Paris, carbon dioxide along with other greenhouse gases emissions should be reduced at high rates in years to come and carbon dioxide should be actively removed from the atmosphere in huge amounts.
A number of methods are available for carbon dioxide removal including, forest management, afforestation, a combination of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, dedicated activities such as direct air capture and sequestration and enhanced weathering of olivine rocks. There are many research works on the potential obstacles to an increase of these negative emissions, both for the novelty of many proposals of atmospheric carbon capture and storage, for example, safe carbon storage capacity.
Although a number of scenarios identified in the last decade underestimated the development of renewable energy technologies, now it is possible to define by consensus in the available scientific literature that in the absence of effective, large-scale capture and subsequent storage of airborne carbon, strict emission reduction regulations may be out of reach. The absence of an efficient and deep, de-carbonization of energy as well as industrial sectors, carbon emissions in the future, and in view of emissions that have already happened, will lead to an irreparable impact on the climate for several decades.
Stefano Caserini and colleagues at Politecnico di Milano in Italy described the energy and environmental evaluation of a new process for the storage of liquid carbon dioxide in glass capsules into the deep seabed. They also performed a preliminary evaluation of the costs of a Submarine Carbon Storage plant. Their research work is published in International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control.
The study presented an energy as well as environmental evaluation of a new method for the storage of liquid carbon dioxide in glass capsules on the deep seabed. The approach was proposed as a safe path for carbon dioxide capture from flue gas of industrial processes as well as power plants, and directly from the atmosphere. This was in order to overcome the obstacles that limit commercial deployment of other carbon dioxide storage methods including injection in saline aquifers. By storing the liquid carbon dioxide separated from the seawater, the proposed method may be a safe alternative with fewer risks associated with carbon dioxide storage in the marine environment.
As of the preliminary cost analysis and Life Cycle Assessment performed in their study, greenhouse gas penalization as well as cost of submarine carbon storage was comparable or slightly higher as compared to alternative storage solutions currently being developed. The research team also observed that the expected environmental risks suggested that the carbon dioxide confinement within the glass capsules had the capacity to minimize the risk linked to carbon dioxide storage in the marine environment.
The preliminary evaluation of the overall cost of the storage with the technology indicated a value of $17/ton carbon dioxide and a rage of 12-30$/ton carbon dioxide. This was competitive with other conventional storage technologies.
The proposed glass capsule technology presents an alternative to the typical storage proposals that are facing challenges in their deployment.

 Evaluation of a new technology for CO2 submarine storage in glass capsules-Advances-in-Engineering
Figure credit: International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, Volume 60, May 2017, Pages 140-155.

About the author

Stefano Caserini has a Master degree in Environmental Engineering and PhD in Sanitary Engineering. He is adjunct professor of Mitigation of Climate Change at the Politecnico di Milano, where he is involved in researches on atmospheric pollution, life cycle assessment, municipal waste incinerator monitoring and greenhouse gas emission assessment and reduction.

He also works as a consultant for private and public company in the fields of emission inventory, environmental impact assessment, air quality pollution and mitigation of climate change. Author of many scientific publications, is also involved in the dissemination of scientific knowledge on climate change. Stefano has published four books and is founder and coordinator of Climalteranti.it, one of the main Italian blog on climate change, and Co-Director of the review “Ingegneria dell’Ambiente” (Engineering of the Environment).

About the author

Giovanni Dolci obtained his master’s degree in Environmental and Land Planning Engineering at Politecnico di Milano (Italy) in 2013. In this university, he works since 2014 in the AWARE Research Group – Assessment on WAste and REsources of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering. His main research topics are environmental evaluations (by means of the Life Cycle Assessment methodology) applied to waste treatments, waste prevention activities, and innovative products.

About the author

Arianna Azzellino is Associate Professor in Environmental Engineering at the DICA, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of Politecnico di Milano. Her research interests, although mostly dedicated to environmental resource management, range widely, being mostly focused on the modelling of different environmental compartments, typically in the perspective of the scenario-based environmental impact assessment. She has authored more than 120 peer-reviewed publications about 50 of which ranked on ISI-WoS/Scopus. She has been also author of about 40 conference communications and papers on international conference proceedings.

About the author

Caterina Lanfredi graduated in Marine Biology in 2007, PhD with Honours in Environmental Engineering at Politecnico di Milano in 2014.  She obtained 3 years Post-doc fellow at the Environmental Engineering Department of the Politecnico di Milano, focused on the study of the potential impacts of anthropogenic activities on the marine environment (e.g. anthropogenic sound emission such as military sonar, geophysical explorations, maritime traffic and human pressure such as off shore and in shore constructions, marine litter). The main issue of her PhD, financed by the U. S. Office of Naval Research, was the Environmental Impact Assessment of anthropogenic underwater sound emission and the development of predictive tools for assessing and managing the risks due to sound emissions on the marine environment. During the PhD she collaborated with the SCRIPPS Institution of Oceanography (USA) and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research(Germany). She is currently  contractor at CoNISMa (Consorzio Nazionale Interuniversitario per le Scienze del Mare) and member of the Board of  Director of the Tethys Research Institute (ONLUS). She has been involved in a Research Program at the NATO Undersea Research Centre (La Spezia, Italy) within the framework of the MMRP, Marine Mammals Risk Mitigation Project. She also collaborated as an independent contractor with the Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution (USA). She has been involved in several field projects all around the world (Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Southern Ocean, Antarctic Peninsula).

About the author

Lucia Rigamonti is a senior researcher at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of Politecnico di Milano (Italy). She is an expert in the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology, especially applied in the waste management sector.

She is an environmental engineer graduated in 2003 cum laude at Politecnico di Milano and in 2007 she completed her PhD in Sanitary and Environmental Engineering. She is professor for the university courses ‘Phenomena of pollution’ and ‘Sanitary – environmental engineering’ at Politecnico di Milano. She has been a visiting researcher at different institutions (e.g. Columbia University, University of Queensland, Vienna University of Technology, National Institute of Technology di Warangal). She has authored over 160 publications, including more than 35 on ISI/SCOPUS journals.

About the author

Beatriz Barreto studied Environmental Engineering at Escola Politécnica da Universidade de São Paulo. She obtained her Master degree at Politecnico di Milano. Currently she is a Phd student at Politecnico di Milano. Her research focuses on carbon capture and storage and negative emissions technologies.

About the author

Mario Grosso is an environmental engineer graduated at Politecnico di Milano. He holds a PhD on the topic of dioxin formation and destruction in waste incineration plants. He is currently Associate Professor at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of Politecnico.

He coordinates the AWARE (Assessment on WAste and REsources) research group, aimed at researching on waste prevention, technologies for recovery and disposal of solid waste and of residues, integrated waste management, flue gas treatment technologies for industrial plants, definition of scenarios for emission reduction, as well as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).


Stefano Caserini, Giovanni Dolci, Arianna Azzellino, Caterina Lanfredi, Lucia Rigamonti, Beatriz Barreto, Mario Grosso. Evaluation of a new technology for carbon dioxide submarine storage in glass capsules. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, volume 60 (2017), pages 140–155.

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