ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As New Mexico and the rest of the globe face the impacts of climate change, researchers are looking at ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Now, Sandia National Labs researchers are exploring a way to generate a bit of energy while also storing carbon.

The idea is to take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and put it deep underground. That’s nothing new. But researchers are testing ways to produce energy during the process, which could be used to power continuous monitoring systems deep underground.

“Ideally, you would have continuous underground sensing, with several different types of sensors, that would tell you how the carbon dioxide is moving, if it is reacting with the groundwater or the minerals,” Charles Bryan, a Sandia geosciences engineer and leader of the project to develop the device, said in a press release. “You could demonstrate that it’s not moving out of the reservoir. However, it’s difficult to run power down a borehole: You can’t just have wires running down a working borehole.”

The researchers are using the natural difference in heat between the warm earth and cooler carbon dioxide flowing down the length of the carbon-capture borehole to generate electricity. They developed both a lab-bench prototype and a version for field testing.

In a 62-feet-deep test bore, the researchers were able to successfully generate electricity using pumped water instead of carbon dioxide. Now, researchers plan on testing the generator’s compatibility with borehole pressure, seismic, and leak sensors.