DECATUR – Now that Decatur has one carbon capture and storage project under its belt and another upcoming, efforts are in the works to study the potential for commercial storage here.

Representatives from the Illinois State Geological Survey and Archer Daniels Midland Co. spoke to the Decatur Park District Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, seeking support for a grant application to the U.S. Department of Energy. The grant could allow for research to determine whether Decatur is feasible for large-scale carbon storage under an effort known as CarbonSAFE.

“The projects that we have done have really led us to want to explore this development of a storage site locally because of the information we've developed from these projects that shows this is an exceptional site,” said Scott McDonald, director of biofuels development at ADM. “It is world class.”

The state geological survey would be the primary agency leading the grant application, McDonald said. The aim is to have a carbon capture and storage complex built and permitted for operation in 2025.

The park district's support is important because property incorporated into the project could belong to the park district, such as land around the Decatur Airport. Park board members generally indicated Wednesday that they would be supportive of further study.

The grant application comes after the Illinois Basin Decatur Project reached a target of capturing and storage 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide deep into a saline formation under the ADM complex.

That project, led by the state geological survey, is in the post-injection monitoring phase. ADM is leading the work on a second project, known as Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage, that is intended to capture a total of 5.5 million metric tons over five years.

By contrast, CarbonSAFE would produce a commercial scale facility that could store more than 50 million metric tons. McDonald and Steve Whittaker of the state geological survey said the Decatur area has good geology for this type of effort.

“We're pretty confident that this technology is something that can be safely done here,” Whittaker said. “We've done it.”

The grant application deadline is Aug. 23.

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