The Carbon Mitigation Initiative is a large program sponsored at Princeton University by BP and Ford. It involves all aspects of carbon management, from atmospheric modeling to carbon capture to sequestration of CO2 in deep geological formations. The idea is to capture CO2 where it is produced (primarily at power plants) and inject it into the earth. Among the most likely places for injection are abandoned petroleum reservoirs, because their geology is known, and the site necessarily has a barrier of impermeable rock above it (which served to trap petroleum over geological time). However, numerous wells were drilled through that rock to extract the petroleum, and then the holes were sealed with cement when the reservoir was exhausted. When CO2 is injected, it will combine with the brine that now fills the reservoir, resulting in formation of carbonic acid with a pH as low as 3.
Our goal is to determine whether the carbonated brine will corrode the cement badly enough to permit unacceptably rapid leakage of CO2 back to the surface. This involves experiments to measure the kinetics of corrosion of cement exposed to carbonic acid, modeling of leakage from a well, and collection of samples from existing wells (such as Teapot Dome).