The research objectives of PISCO2 include the development of biomonitoring tools for CO2 leakage in large areas, testing and development of equipment and methodologies and to serve as a laboratory for agricultural tests of the effects of low CO2 emissions. The PISCO2 facility is running since early 2012; since that time, biological research is being developed and geochemical and flux movements inside the cell are currently being modelled and matched. The facility consists of 18 cells isolated by concrete. Each cell has an area of 16 square meters and a depth of 2.2 meters being equipped with the following systems: i) systems for controlled CO2 injection at different depths (12 of the cells are instrumented with the injectors while the remaining six are used as base cases); ii) systems for sampling groundwater and gases; and iii) systems for monitoring different parameters, such as water content, pH, CO2 flux, microbiological, botanical, and geochemical alterations and the chemical composition of water.
In CIUDEN´s PISCO2 infrastructure it is possible to control many factors before and during the tests such as CO2 flow rate and soil moisture; these characteristics allow to develop made-to-measure research, fitting to the settings of the site where the results can be later applied.
The platform serves to test how small CO2 diffuse leakages can influence microorganisms, lichens and soils and it aims to find low cost sustainable bioindicators of CO2 concentrations in wide areas. It will also serve as a laboratory for agricultural tests of the beneficial effects of low CO2 emissions. The installation is a tool to test and calibrate instruments such as accumulation chambers or any other device for soil-atmosphere interphase. All the current monitoring systems are designed for remote online use. The design of the cells is flexible and it can be customized to the requirements of future investigations. Finally, the option of arranging short courses for acquiring expertise on biomonitoring techniques and its associated role in the safety of CO2 storage is also offered.