Carbon capture technologies are only as good as their ability to prevent leaking of carbon dioxide back into the environment. Utilities that invest in advanced coal plants with carbon capture technologies need to prove that the carbon stays where it is stored. The mixing of carbon dioxide from biofuel production also requires monitoring.
Air sampling equipment can push large volumes of air though a filter that will trap carbon. A fraction of the carbon that is captured will have Carbon-14 instead of Carbon-12 and the decays of Carbon-14 can be counted in a liquid scintillation counter. A comparison is made to natural background levels.
Nuclear counting can be performed to remove the current need for chemical assay. The methodology can find inefficiencies in current carbon capture technologies so those technologies can be repaired or optimized. Additionally, carbon storage facilities will need the ability to test for leaks of the underground storage that is available due to this technology.