University of Southern California The USC Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering

Carbon Separation and Sequestration 

Coal remains an important fuel source for many countries in the world, and despite the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions coal will continue to be used. To address the carbon emissions problems, USC researchers are working on aplciations for seperating and sequestering carbon so it does not reach the atmosphere.

Nanoporous inorganic membranes are being developed which can be used for the separation of CO2. Both conventional and reactive separations are being investigated using these membranes. For example, these membranes are used to improve the efficiency of the water gas shift (WGS) step in an IGCC power plant. The membrane-based WGS reactor produces two streams, a pure hydrogen permeate product to be used for clean energy generation, and a sequestration-ready, CO2-rich retentate effluent.

USC reserachers have also developed mathematical models as well as efficient and accurate numerical algorithms for solving large-scale problems of carbon sequestion on underground aquifers. These look at the flow and reactive transport in highly heterogeneous porous media such as petroleum reservoirs and water bearing aquifers. The works has advanced the mathematical and geoscience foundations necessary to enhance the predictive capabilities of simulators through an improved understanding of the physical processes that govern subsurface phenomena on multiple spatial and temporal scales.


  • Models for understanding transport of liquids and gasses in aquifers.
  • Carbon sequestration in the ocean and ocean responses to climate change with regard to concentrations of greenhouse gases.
  • Develop high temperature membranes for the separation of CO2 from flue-gas and other gaseous mixtures.