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DECATUR — After finding early success with its partnerships to study carbon sequestration, Richland Community College is looking ahead to long-term possibilities for the technology.

Richland is among the partners looking into the business side of carbon storage through the CarbonSAFE project, said David Larrick, director of Richland's sequestration program. Larrick, who presented Tuesday during the Richland board of trustees meeting, is encouraged by the progress being made in the college's carbon capture and storage program.

“We really started with a blank sheet in writing the courses,” Larrick said.

Students in the program have strong job possibilities along with being able to advance and study at places including the University of Illinois and Millikin University, Larrick said. A new agreement will allow for Millikin environmental studies students to take the introduction and advanced carbon sequestration courses offered at Richland, he said.

Injection of carbon dioxide as part of the Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage project is likely to begin in early 2017, Larrick said. Injection wells are on or near the Richland campus, he said.

The intent of that project is to capture a total of 5.5 million metric tons over five years.

Developing the business side of the technology is what will increasingly become the focus of research, Larrick said.

The CarbonSAFE project is looking to identify long-term storage locations for carbon dioxide, said Doug Brauer, Richland vice president of economic development and innovative solutions. The Mount Simon Sandstone, where the carbon dioxide injection and storage has been tested underneath Decatur, is among what has been identified as one of the best suited possibilities, Brauer said.

“There is a great interest in seeing the establishment of an enterprise in the Decatur area to store carbon dioxide,” Brauer said.

The likely partnership would involve Richland along with the Decatur Park District and City of Decatur, Brauer said. The Illinois State Geological Survey and Archer Daniels Midland Co. earlier this year approached the Decatur Park Board about the CarbonSAFE research to determine whether Decatur is feasible for large-scale carbon storage.

Property incorporated into the project could belong to the park district. The aim is to have a carbon capture and storage complex built and permitted for operation in 2025.

CarbonSAFE would produce a commercial scale facility that could store more than 50 million metric tons.

Larrick said carbon capture and storage is just one of the forms of alternative energy being studied at Richland.

“We're looking at demonstrating all sources,” Larrick said.

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