Plastic bags are the center of a huge green debate, but here’s one use we’d never imagined: Underwater ocean carbon sequestering!? With all the talk about carbon sequestration, which involves storing liquefied CO2 deep beneath the earth, Dr. David Keith from the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Calgary has devised a scheme to store it underwater in the ocean floor, contained in giant sausage-like plastic bags. Could this possibly be a good idea?

Just to give this perspective, visualize this: in order to hold around 160 million tons of CO2 (around 2.2 days worth of current global emissions), it would take a cylindrical bag measuring 100 meters in radius and several kilometers long. The obviously immense weight of the bag, as well as the pressure from the ocean, would contain the CO2 and prevent the bag from floating up. If you’re wondering where a gas-filled bag of this size might be located, it would sit 3 kilometers below the ocean’s surface. Just like in subterranean carbon sequestration, the CO2 would be pumped and moved via pipes to the bag.

Maybe it’s just us, but giant plastic bags filled with carbon dioxide, submerged in the oceans depths sounds like a recipe for disaster. What if one of those things leaks or explodes? And with that kind of deep-ocean pressure on a bag so large.. how would this really work?

Dr. Keith is set to speak at the Annual Conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that will be held on April of this year. Needless to say, it will be interesting to hear his thoughts on this project, as the details are obviously going to be incredibly important. After all, storing a bag of that size in the ocean bed is likely to do significant damage to that very fragile environment. Furthermore, issues of maintenance (just how do you maintain it?), and how to prevent rupture, are significant problems that need to be worked out.

+ Into the Abyss: Deep-sixing Carbon