Storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) in reservoirs in underground may be better for the climate than producing the gas directly into the atmosphere as researchers have found that this process is much safer over long periods of time.
The researchers found that natural accumulations of CO2 that have been trapped underground for around 100,000 years have not significantly corroded the rocks above.
These findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, show viability of a process called carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a solution to sinking carbon emissions from coal and gas-fired power stations, the researchers said.
"With careful evaluation, burying carbon dioxide underground will prove very much safer than emitting CO2 directly to the atmosphere," said Mike Bickle, who is the lead author and professor at University of Cambridge.
Carbon capture and storage involves capturing the carbon dioxide produced at power stations, compressing it, and pumping it into reservoirs in the rock more than a kilometre underground.
CO2 must remain buried for at least 10,000 years to avoid the impacts on climate.
One concern in this process is that the dilute acid, formed when the stored CO2 dissolves in water present in the reservoir rocks, might corrode the rocks above and let the CO2 escape upwards.
The new research found that CO2 can be securely stored underground for far longer than the 10,000 years needed to avoid climatic impacts.
Study suggested that the vital component in geological carbon storage, the comparatively resistant layer of "cap rock" that preserves the CO2, can resist corrosion from CO2-saturated water for at least 100,000 years.