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Unlocking the Future: Integrating IoT and DLT for Real-Time Data in Carbon Sequestration

To create a sustainable future, it is vital to apply advanced technologies. One powerful duo is the Internet of Things (IoT) and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). In this blog, we'll see how blending IoT and DLT can help in tackling and adding transparency in carbon sequestration  [1]. In this blog post, we dive into the realm of carbon sequestration and explore how the synergy between IoT and DLT can revolutionise the way we monitor and manage this critical process.

Understanding the Challenge: Carbon Sequestration

Carbon sequestration is the practice of removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it. It is one of the many approaches being taken to tackle climate change.

A variety of techniques are used in carbon capture and storage (CCS) to lower emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from industrial sources. These techniques include:

Oxyfuel combustion -  which burns fossil fuels in oxygen to produce nearly pure CO2.

Pre-combustion -  which traps CO2 before burning fossil fuels and producing hydrogen. 

Post-combustion - which removes CO2 after burning fossil fuels. After being captured, CO2 is moved to storage locations by road tankers, ships, or pipelines.

Direct air capture (DAC) - This involves direct capture of CO2 from the air and research is still being done to make this feasible as this process is pretty cost intensive and can range between $600 - $1000 per metric ton of the CO2 captured [2]. 

Two types of storage include mineral storage, which involves CO2 reacting with naturally occurring minerals, and deep geological storage, which is found in sedimentary rocks [3]. Strict oversight and legal structures are essential to guarantee storage integrity and stop leaks. Fig. 1 shows the entire generic process of carbon sequestration highlighting a few different carbon-intensive industries.

Figure 1: The Carbon Sequestration Process Flow Diagram

Challenges for Carbon Capture and Storage

 There are several challenges in the carbon sequestration process which pose risks towards CCS scaling and adoption, let us highlight a few prominent challenges and a viable solution to them given below:

Issue: Automation and Transparency

Key Challenge: Automation and transparency play crucial roles for organisations with centralised structures as they navigate the intricate challenges posed by relatively novel sequestration projects.

Solution: Self-executing smart contracts offer a transformative solution for automating diverse sequestration processes. For instance, when triggered by a specific carbon capture amount, these contracts can seamlessly automate the issuance of carbon offsets. This not only prevents errors but also diminishes reliance on intermediaries, fostering a more streamlined and efficient verification process [4].

Issue: Energy Intensiveness

Key Challenge: Carbon capture costs can range between $15 - $120 per metric ton. The energy-intensive process of capturing and compressing CO2 poses economic issues for CCS-equipped facilities, with projected cost rises  [2, 5].

Solution: Organisations can reduce costs in carbon sequestration projects through strategies such as adopting low-cost imagery for site planning, using zero or low-emission fuels(bio-fuels) to cut on costs, and implementing small-scale equipment for efficient forestry operations.

Such small implementations can lead to up to a  37% decrease in sequestration project costs [6].

Issue: Security Issues

Key Challenge: White collar crimes have particularly been on the rise in the carbon offset markets. White collar crimes, like hacking and phishing, threaten the security of carbon markets  such as the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). Hacking incidents target national registries,  leading to the theft of valuable carbon credits, while phishing exploits vulnerabilities in communication channels to gain sensitive information [7].

Solution: DLT provides a robust solution to these threats. Its decentralised and cryptographic features enhance the security of carbon sequestration data. In cases of hacking, blockchain's decentralised structure prevents a single point of failure, making it challenging for attackers to compromise the entire system [7]. Thereby protecting national registries and mitigating phishing and scamming attacks.

Issue: Quality of offsets

Key Challenge: The carbon offsets many a time are low quality or are double-counted, double-issued or doubly-used.

Solution: Blockchain establishes a transparent system for carbon offsets, immutably recording each step in the sequestration process. This creates an auditable trail, verifying offset legitimacy and preventing fraud in voluntary carbon markets [8,9]. There are already implementations to track the legitimacy of offsets, notably the climate action data trust’s (CAD) open-source data system that uses DLT to connect disparate registries worldwide, establishing a peer-to-peer network for data sharing. In doing so, it provides critical data to identify “double counting” — when more than one entity claims the same emissions reductions [10].  

To sum up, integrating cutting-edge technologies like self-executing smart contracts, IoT sensors, and blockchain offers practical solutions to the challenges hindering CCS scalability. 


In conclusion, the integration of  IoT and DLT presents a transformative solution to the challenges faced in carbon sequestration. By leveraging the combined strengths of real-time data monitoring through IoT devices and the secure, transparent ledger provided by blockchain, the CCS process can be revolutionised.

The complexities and uncertainties in CCS, adherence to stringent laws and regulations, safety concerns, energy-intensive processes, security issues, and the quality of offsets, can be effectively addressed through this integration.

By mitigating these challenges, the integration of IoT and DLT not only makes carbon storage and recycling more incentivizing and lucrative for organisations but also contributes to global sustainability goals. It establishes a foundation for trust among stakeholders, regulators, and the public, crucial for fostering cooperation in the critical efforts towards reducing carbon emissions and combating climate change. The unlocking of this technological synergy not only streamlines the carbon sequestration process but sets a precedent for how advanced technologies can be harnessed to create a more sustainable and transparent future.

About the Author
Arafath Shariff