A New Strategy to Seal Underground Fractures for Geologic Storage of Carbon Dioxide, and Treat Acid Mine Drainage Simultaneously

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Researchers in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Princeton University have invented a novel process to seal underground fractures for geologic storage of carbon dioxide, and treat acid mine drainage simultaneously.
Fractures play an important role in a wide range of subsurface processes, including but not limited to geothermal energy production, subsurface remediation, oil and gas production, energy storage, and CO2 storage. For instance, in the case of geologic sequestration of CO2, fractures can serve as conductive pathways for CO2 to leak out of the storage location, reach groundwater sources, and contaminate them, or even come to the surface, be released into the atmosphere, and cause significant financial losses. 
One way to securely contain stored CO2 is to seal highly permeable fractures in the geologic formation and abandoned oil and gas wells by inducing mineral precipitation. On the other hand, environmental contamination due to industrial wastewater production, especially Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), is a long-standing concern for many communities and states. AMD occurs during mining activities when rocks with sulfur-bearing minerals are exposed to water and air, leading to the formation of sulfuric acid. Contamination of water resources by AMD has not received nearly as much attention as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), due to no economic gain out of the treatment process, even though AMD causes the most extensive water pollution problem in many areas. 
The purpose of this process is to connect these two pressing environmental problems and introduce a new environmentally beneficial, economically feasible strategy to mitigate the leakage of CO2 from target storage locations while simultaneously treating industrial wastewater.
The preliminary results from our novel approach show that while treating AMD, it is thermodynamically feasible to convert carbon dioxide into siderite, seal the fracture in which CO2 is leaking, and prohibit the migration CO2 from storage locations.


  • Geothermal energy production, surface remediation, oil and gas production, energy storage, nuclear waste disposal, and CO2 storage.
  • Carbon capture and storage facilities
  • Treatment of acid mine drainage sources


  • Usage of mine runoffs and wastewater sources
  • Cost-Effective compared to existing solutions of using polymers or gels as sealants

Intellectual Property & Development Status
Patent protection is pending. Princeton is currently seeking commercial partners for the further development and commercialization of this opportunity. 

The Inventors

Prof Catherine Peters
Dr. Peters works in the areas of environmental chemistry and geochemistry. Her work focuses on the environmental challenges of subsurface energy technologies such as geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide, geothermal energy production, and hydrofracking for shale gas extraction. Her group applies a range of approaches to solving these problems, including high-pressure flow cells for experimental investigation, imaging via X-ray spectroscopy and electron microscopy, and mathematical modeling for reactive transport simulations. Dr. Peters has a collaborative approach to research, working with colleagues at numerous other universities and national labs. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sassan Hajirezaie
Sassan is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate studying environmental engineering at Princeton with a background in petroleum engineering. His research focuses on carbon capture and storage (CCS), enhanced oil recovery, and natural gas production. He is interested in the impacts of geochemical reactions on sealing fractures in the subsurface and is currently working on limiting the investment risk and expanding the potential geological formations able to host CO2 storage, thereby increasing the potential pace and ultimate capacity of CCS deployment. He has an extensive background in petroleum engineering, and has worked on various oil and gas projects, including but not limited to reservoir modeling and simulation, geologic CO2 storage projects, and history matching of CO2-EOR operations. Among the various tools that he uses in his research are image analysis of rock samples, laboratory experiments, and reactive transport modeling in porous media during CO2 injection into reservoirs and aquifers.

Chris Greig
Dr. Chris Greig is a senior research scientist in the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment. He commenced a 25-year career in industry in 1986 as the co-founder of a successful process technology and contracting company, which he sold in 1999 to a major European engineering company. Since then and prior to joining the University of Queensland in 2011, he held senior project and executive roles in the construction and energy resources sectors, including as CEO of ZeroGen, a large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) project. During his time at UQ, Chris has also served as Chairman of the Energy Policy Institute of Australia, Deputy Chairman of Gladstone Ports Corporation, and Non-Executive Director of two ASX listed engineering companies. Chris’ research interests lie in energy transitions, economics and policy, energy for development, mega-project implementation, and CCS.

Prabhpreet Gill
Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing • (609) 258-3653 • psgill@princeton.edu

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Prabhpreet Gill
Licensing Associate
Princeton University
Sassan Hajirezaie
Catherine Peters
Christopher Greig