DECATUR — The stage is set for a second carbon capture and storage project to get under way in Decatur as the first phase is now 75 percent completed.
The first phase, known as the Illinois Basin Decatur project, has safely captured and stored deep below ground 750,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the Archer Daniels Midland Co. ethanol plant in Decatur, said Rob Finley, who is heading the Illinois State Geological Survey sequestration team leading the first phase.
The goal is to reach 1 million tons, which Finley said is expected to occur by the end of the year.
To celebrate the milestone, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D- Ill., was among those Thursday attending an event at the National Sequestration Education Center on the Richland Community College campus. U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, also attended the event.
The work is worthwhile because of its ability to keep carbon dioxide out of the air, Durbin said.
“It is worthy of our time and our resources,” Durbin said. “It has a long-term benefit.”
ADM, which will lead the second phase known as the Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage project, is awaiting a permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before drilling on an injection well can begin. The company is interested in the projects in part because of the business opportunities that are created, said Todd Werpy, ADM's vice president research and development.
If the process proves to be successful, Werpy said a pipeline could be built to pump carbon dioxide to Southern Illinois as part of enhanced oil recovery efforts. It would be similar to what is done in Texas, he said.
“A few years ago, we saw such tremendous potential in carbon capture and storage,” Werpy said. “We're getting closer to realizing that potential.”
Durbin said the foresight and leadership ADM has shown to initiate the projects will lead to more related innovations in the future. ADM is involved on its own accord without a government mandate, Durbin said.
“It is just the beginning,” Durbin said. “This is corporate responsibility at its best. The environment will be cleaner not just in Macon County but for all of us.”
The work being done has gained national and international attention, with Finley saying visitors from a dozen countries have stopped in Decatur to learn more about it. Decatur has been a bright spot being the site of the only large-scale carbon capture and storage project under way, Finley said.
As a result, global climate change is being addressed, Finley said.
“Valuable insights have been gained so far and will be gained in the future,” Finley said.
Richland Community College will become more involved with the work as the Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage project moves forward, Richland President Gayle Saunders said. The Illinois Basin Decatur project has already proven to be successful, she said.
“It is this project that has laid the foundation for Richland's involvement in the second phase of the project,” Saunders said.
The projects include work to capture carbon dioxide emissions from the ADM ethanol plant and pump it to be stored more 7,000 feet underground. Finley said all of the current storage is underneath ADM property.