DECATUR – A key milestone has been met as the demonstration of carbon capture and storage technology in Decatur continues.
The Illinois Basin Decatur Project has successfully reached its target of capturing and storing 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide deep into a saline formation underneath the Archer Daniels Midland Co. complex, the U.S. Department of Energy announced Thursday.
Injection of carbon dioxide over a three-year period that started in November 2011 was successful, and it has shown no signs of moving upward, said Rob Finley, leader of the Illinois State Geological Survey sequestration team that is part of the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium.
Finley said the research team has been satisfied with the way the project has turned out and that the captured carbon dioxide can remain sealed in place.
“The CO2 is going to stay in the deepest part of the formation for hundreds, if not thousands of years,” Finley said. “You're always concerned with how good your predictions are, but it's been vindicated by the geology.”
The project compressed carbon dioxide captured from the ADM ethanol production facility that was injected approximately 7,000 feet below the surface into the Mount Simon Sandstone, which underlies most of Illinois, southwestern Indiana and western Kentucky.
Part of the goal with the project has been to demonstrate how the technology can be applied elsewhere, Finley said.
“This technology is not just for the U.S.,” Finley said. “It's all one atmosphere, so reducing our emissions will really help.”
Anyone interested in the technology won't have to look far for more developments, as drilling of an injection well on ADM property near Richland Community College for a second project will soon be under way. Finley said the Illinois Basin Decatur Project has really set the stage for the second demonstration, known as Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage.
ADM is leading the work on the second project, which is intended to capture 1.1 million metric tons annually for a total of 5.5 million metric tons over five years.
As the ADM-led project gets under way, Finley said work on the first project hasn't yet concluded. Monitoring of the soil, air and groundwater near where the carbon dioxide has been injected will continue for at least the next three years, Finley said. The area could be watched longer to go along with the monitoring that will occur from the second project, he said.
ADM has benefited from the first project and expects the drilling operation to go smoothly, said Scott McDonald, the company's biofuels development director.
Broader application of the technology will move into the political and policy area as Finley said researchers have shown it can work in selected places such as Decatur that have the most suitable geology.
“There a lot of places that could never do what we did in Decatur,” Finley said. “We carefully selected the site. We can deploy the technology in the right places.”
The project is part of the development phase of the Energy Department's Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships initiative, which is attempting to move the country on a path toward a low carbon future.
“This milestone is an important step towards the widespread deployment of carbon capture technologies in real-world settings,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said. “The successful testing of these technologies and the lessons learned support a range of industries in the region, while also reducing the amount of emissions in the atmosphere and protecting the planet at the same time.”
The National Sequestration Education Center at Richland will continue to be utilized as information is shared for those interested in using the technology around the world.
“We will continue to do knowledge sharing,” said Sallie Greenberg, the Geological Survey's associate director, Advanced Energy Technology initiative. “We're hoping what we learned will jump start CCS projects other places.”
Researchers have gained valuable insight into how the process can be applied, Greenberg said.
“Until you do it, you don't know the reality of it,” Greenberg said. “You have a sense of what you will encounter. We can help other projects.”
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