Indian Ocean & Bay of Bengal Potential CO2 Sinks: IIT Madras Study

A study by researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras has highlighted the potential of the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal as significant sinks for storing large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2). This process, known as CO2 sequestration, could play a crucial role in decarbonizing industrial clusters and supporting India's efforts to achieve its climate change goals.

The study found that CO2 can be stored permanently in the ocean in the form of solid hydrate beyond a depth of 500 meters, using the liquid CO2 method. This approach could help industrial clusters become carbon neutral without causing harm to marine ecology. CO2 sequestration in oceans leverages the natural ability of the ocean to act as a storage reservoir for greenhouse gases.

According to Professor Jitendra Sangwai of the Department of Chemical Engineering at IIT Madras, CO2 is denser than seawater at depths beyond 2,800 meters, providing an additional gravitational barrier that prevents CO2 from escaping back into the atmosphere. This method has the potential to sequester several hundred gigatonnes of anthropogenic CO2 in oceans and marine sediments, particularly in the Bay of Bengal. This amount is equivalent to several years' worth of India's total greenhouse gas emissions.

Once CO2 is stored as a gas hydrate, it remains permanently trapped in subsea sediments due to the gravitational and hydrate permeability barrier. This prevents reemission of CO2 into the atmosphere, offering a sustainable and long-term solution for carbon storage.

The research findings have been published in several peer-reviewed journals such as Energy Fuels and Fuel. Other countries in Europe, such as Norway and Denmark, have already been exploring similar CO2 storage methods in the North Sea. The study's insights could prove invaluable for India as it seeks to mitigate climate change and achieve its decarbonization objectives.