Energy Minister Michael Fallon today visited an innovative underground North East project aiming to help fight climate change.
Mr Fallon was at Boulby Underground Laboratory, at Boulby Mine on Teesside to see the Durham and Sheffield universities-led Muon Tomography project.
The project uses Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), a process of capturing millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from power stations and industrial facilities, and storing the CO2 offshore, deep under the sea bed.
The £1.75m Muon Tomography project is developing devices which use subatomic particles, known as muons, to monitor the stored CO2.
Other partners in the project are the University of Bath and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, while additional expert input has been received from NASA.
Prof Jon Gluyas, of Durham Energy Institute said: “CCS is a possible solution to preventing the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere by capturing it and compressing it into a fluid.
“This could then be stored underground, such as in the depleted oil and gas fields under the North Sea’s bed. The process could reduce emissions from fossil fuel power stations by up to 90%.
“Muon tomography could enable us to remotely check and track the geo-stored CO2 and so ensure the integrity of the site.
“We are delighted with the £647,000 contribution to this project by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and thrilled to have the opportunity to show the Minister the project in action.”
Mr Fallon, Minister of State for Business and the Minister of State for Energy, said: “It is fascinating to see how the innovative CO2 monitoring technology being tested at Boulby Potash Mine could help to reduce the costs of Carbon Capture and Storage.
“The UK is ideally suited to the development of a CCS industry with excellent storage potential in the North and Irish seas as well as world leading CCS research like this being undertaken by UK universities.
“We want to see a strong and successful CCS industry which has the potential to support a diverse energy mix and help us to achieve our climate change targets in a cost-effective way.”
At a depth of over a kilometre Boulby, a working potash and salt mine operated by Cleveland Potash Ltd, is the deepest in Britain.
Phil Baines, chief executive officer of Cleveland Potash Ltd, said: “We are proud to be enabling the progression of nationally and internationally important scientific research in the region.”
The project is building on the work of the Muon Tide study at the same location. This uses muons to measure tidal movements from three quarters of a kilometre below the sea bed, as the mine extends six kilometres out from the shore, beneath the North Sea.