DECATUR — Archer Daniels Midland Co. publicly unveiled its system to pump carbon dioxide emissions deep underground on Friday, an initiative to lessen the carbon emissions of the company.

The Illinois Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage Project began operations in April. It has so far captured more 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide and piped it 7,000 feet below the surface. The goal is to permanently store 1 million tons of carbon dioxide per year from its corn processing operations.

The work on the city's east side is intended to demonstrate the commercial-scale applicability of carbon capture and storage technology in a saline reservoir. The permitting process for the project was completed earlier this year.

Jared Daniels with the U.S. Department of Energy, said this project is “very noteworthy in a global sense.”

Projects like the carbon capture and storage are a good example for other businesses and the world, Daniels said. Illinois is leading the way forward in making decisions about carbon emissions and corporate responsibility, he said.

“Decatur is clearly a big bright spot on the map,” he said. “Public engagement has just been phenomenal.”

The Friday unveiling took place at National Sequestration Education Center at Richland Community College. It featured speakers from ADM, the U.S. Department of Energy, Richland Community College and the Illinois State Geological Society. The injection well, along with monitoring wells, are located near the Richland campus. 

“As we are speaking, CO2 is being injected,” said Steve Whittacker of the geologic survey. “You really should be proud.”

The captured carbon dioxide will be stored almost a mile and half underground in the Mount Simon Sandstone, where researchers believe it can be safely stored. The Mount Simon Sandstone in the Illinois Basin is one of the largest saline aquifers in the world.

The plan is to capture and store 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually for a total of 5.5 million metric tons over five years, officials said.

Carbon dioxide is considered a greenhouse gas, which means it traps the heat and energy in the atmosphere. Scientists say this contributes to the increasing temperatures of the Earth and has other effects on global climate change.

In a previous interview with the Herald & Review, Scott McDonald, ADM's carbon capture project manager, said the amount of carbon dioxide captured will be the equivalent of 200,000 fewer cars driving on the road. 

Partners on the $207 million project include the U.S. Department of Energy, Richland Community College and the Illinois State Geological Survey. The project received a $141 million investment from the Department of Energy, which was matched by over $66 million in private sector cost share.

This is the second carbon capture and storage project that ADM has helped to lead. The previous project involved removing and storing approximately 1 million tons of carbon over three years as part of the smaller scale Illinois Basin – Decatur Project, which was led by the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium at the University of Illinois.

The latest project is permitted to operate for five years, giving it the potential to store up to 5.5 million tons of carbon dioxide. Researchers estimate that the sandstone formation can potentially store more than 250 million tons of produced carbon dioxide each year, the energy department said. 

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Staff Writer

Breaking news and enterprise reporter for the Herald & Review.

Staff Writer

Government-watchdog reporter for the Herald & Review.

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