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CO2 injection system for ecotoxicological studies

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The University of Cadiz in collaboration with CSIC, has designed a non-pressurized laboratory-scale CO2 injection system in order to investigate the effects on marine ecosystems derived of decrease in pH associated to increase of CO2 levels. The system enables to run standardized toxicity tests by using different exposure routes (seawater, whole sediment, and sediment elutriate) by simply adaptations as a way to assess the toxicity of marine environment which has been affected by CO2 leakages.

It is therefore necessary to run toxicity tests simulating CO2 leakages in order to study the adverse effects that may arise.

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Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology is increasingly being considered as one of the most efficient manner to mitigate CO2 emissions. Many projects aiming capture carbon dioxide emitted by industries and store it in stable geological structures take place in coastal and/or marine areas. It entails a risk of CO2 leakage either during injection time or later from where it is stored.

These CO2 leakages in the seabed may damage the marine environment mainly due to acidification produced. Develop studies to know how marine organisms and ecosystems are really affected by the CO2 increase requires simulate in the laboratory the acidification processes that occurs in them.

Nowadays, most of these simulation studies are based on the acidification of seawater due to increased concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere but however, the direct and indirect effects caused by leakage of CO2 through marine sediments have been little studied.

It is therefore necessary to run toxicity tests simulating CO2 leakages in order to study the adverse effects that may arise. For this purpose, a CO2 injection system that enables to reproduce in the laboratory the marine acidification processes caused by carbon dioxide leaks has been developed.

The system is composed on several test vessels connected to an automatic control system where it is possible to generate a particular pH range. The pH is constantly monitored by a sensor connected to the computer system and adjusted by adding CO2 through a solenoid valve. The CO2 injection system can be adapted to work with several routes of exposure, such us remove clean seawater, whole sediment, and sediment elutriates. Furthermore, different test chamber sizes can be used depending on the organism exposed.


  • The system has been designed to work with a wide range of pH, considering not only that pH decrease as result of a possible leakage of CO2 stored in marine geological structures (pH 5.5 in the worst of cases) but also the ocean acidification due to the exchange of CO2 from the atmosphere (pH 7.2-7.5).
  • The device could be adapted to the requirements of different toxicity tests that intend to perform, by simple modifications. It enables studies of both direct (survival) and indirect (metals availability in the environment due to the marine environmental acidification) effects and biomarkers.
  • Results obtained evidence that this device is suitable for checking the associated effect to leakages of CO2 and ocean acidification process


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