CCUS Project

Reactive, Multi-phase Behavior of CO2 in Saline Aquifers beneath the Colorado Plateau

Major occurrences of known gas fields having high concentrations of CO2. Red dots are the point sources of CO2 emissions from power plants with dots sized according to the amount of annual CO2 emissions (in million metric tons).

The Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) funded a project titled “Reactive, Multi-phase Behavior of CO2 in Saline Aquifers beneath the Colorado Plateau” for a three-year period beginning August 13, 2000.

This project involves three research organizations: the Utah Geological Survey (UGS), the Energy and Geoscience Institute at the University of Utah (EGI), and Industrial Research Limited from New Zealand (IRL). The Principal Investigators are Rick Allis (UGS), Joe Moore (EGI) and Stephen White (IRL).

In addition to the funding from NETL, more funding is being contributed by the UGS and the Utah Energy Office. Total funding for this project is $428,000.

Research Initiatives

Carbon sequestration is a priority research area of the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), and involves the following programs:

  • Carbon Capture (developing technologies to extract CO2 from power plant flue gases and industrial point source emissions)
  • Geologic Sequestration (long-term storage of CO2 underground)
  • Ocean Sequestration (long-term storage of CO2 deep within the ocean)
  • Terrestrial Sequestration (the net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere or the prevention of CO2 net emissions from the terrestrial ecosystems into the atmosphere)
  • Advanced Projects (developing technologies to recycle or reuse CO2 from energy systems)

The Utah Geological Survey, Energy and Geoscience Institute, and Industrial Research Limited (UGS-EGI-IRL) project is part of the Geologic Sequestration program. For more information on NETL’s carbon sequestration programs go to

In 2002, the President announced a “Global Climate Change Initiative” goal of reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas intensity by 18% between 2002 and 2012. The greenhouse gas intensity is the ratio of total annual greenhouse gas emissions (mostly carbon dioxide [CO2], plus methane, nitrous oxide and other gases) divided by the gross domestic product. This ratio is considered to be an indicator of the reduction in gas emissions that can occur without affecting economic growth.

The underlying philosophy is that stimulating and applying the technologies required for stabilizing and ultimately reducing greenhouse gas concentrations is best achieved by sustained economic growth. Between 1990 and 2000 the U.S. reduced its greenhouse gas intensity by 12%, so the target for the next decade is a challenging one.

In early 2003, DOE circulated a “Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership” solicitation to stimulate a government/industry effort to create a nationwide network of partnerships to determine the most suitable technologies, regulations, and infrastructure needs for carbon capture, storage and sequestration in different areas of the country. DOE has set aside $8 – 10 million for this initiative. For details, see:

Several Utah agencies have agreed to join up with similar agencies in surrounding states in a proposal to form a partnership centered on the southwest U.S. The states include New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, southern Wyoming and northern Texas and also include the Navajo Nation (see map).

The UGS is coordinating Utah’s involvement, which if funded, will also involve participants from the Utah Automated Geographic Reference Center, the University of Utah and EGI, Utah State University, Division of Air Quality (DEQ), Utah Energy Office (DNR), and the Division of Oil Gas and Mining (DNR). Pacificorp and the Intermountain Power Agency have agreed to be industry partners.

If the Southwest Partnership Region proposal is funded, information about the scope of the project and progress will be posted on this website. A funding announcement is expected from DOE during the second half of 2003.


For more information contact Michael Vanden Berg, 801-538-5419;