January 2002

The Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI) is a joint project of Princeton University, BP, and The Ford Motor Company whose purpose is to find solutions to the carbon and climate problem.

During its first year the CMI engaged a staff of over 50 participants, including 14 faculty in 6 departments, 19 post-docs, 7 graduate students, 8 professional research and technical staff, and 3 visitors. It moved into newly renovated headquarters in September.

The CMI initiated a research program on the capture, storage, science, and policy of carbon mitigation, together with a structure of governance to direct and coordinate research and outreach. These are described in detail in the accompanying report. We identify some of the most significant accomplishments of the first year below.

  1. We show with models of hydrogen production from fossil fuels with CO2 disposal that cogeneration of electricity and hydrogen is a promising route to economy-wide carbon mitigation. We also show that co-sequestration with CO2 of contaminants such as H2S or SO2 could lead to lower costs.
  2. We strengthen the scientific case for geological sequestration with an analysis of the global geochemical constraints on reservoir leakage. An unexpected effect of heterogeneity among reservoirs is that the global carbon problem can be solved with storage in reservoirs leaking at higher than expected levels.
  3. We have built two new laboratory facilities to explore CO2-brine-rock geochemistry. One is for measurements of reaction rates at high pressures and temperatures at core centimeter scale. The other is for the study of molecular-scale interactions at the fluid-mineral surface.
  4. We have examined new ideas for short-timescale fertilization of small patches of the ocean. We show that the CO2 actually removed from the atmosphere is only about 10% or less of the CO2 initially taken up by phytoplankton as a result of fertilization; that uptake is spread over a wide geographical area, making direct verification impractical; and that the potential exists for large negative effects on biological productivity and fisheries far from the site of fertilization.
  5. We have described an alternative to the “cap-and- trade” Kyoto agreement (called, “no cap, but trade”) that would significantly reduce costs and simplify enforcement.