Washington, DC—The Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC), one of seven regional partnerships created by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to advance carbon sequestration technologies nationwide, has begun drilling the injection well for their large-scale carbon dioxide (CO2) injection test in Decatur, Illinois. The test is part of the development phase of the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships program, an Office of Fossil Energy initiative launched in 2003 to determine the best approaches for capturing and permanently storing gases that can contribute to global climate change.
The large-scale project will capture CO2 from the Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Ethanol Production Facility in Decatur, Ill., and inject it in a deep saline formation more than a mile underground. Starting in early 2010, up to one million metric tonnes of CO2 from the ADM ethanol facility will be compressed to a liquid-like dense phase and injected over a three-year period.
The rock formation targeted for the injection is the Mt. Simon Sandstone, at a depth between 6,000 and 7,000 feet. The Mt. Simon Sandstone is the thickest and most widespread saline reservoir in the Illinois Basin, with an estimated CO2 storage capacity of 27 to 109 billion metric tonnes. Analysis of data collected during the characterization phase of the project indicated that the lower Mt. Simon formation has the necessary geological characteristics to be a good injection target.
In January, ADM — in collaboration with the Illinois State Geologic Survey at the University of Illinois, which leads the MGSC — was issued an Underground Injection Control permit by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for the injection well. Obtaining the permit is significant because it allows the consortium to proceed with drilling, making the MGSC the first DOE Regional Partnership to begin drilling a development phase injection well. The drilling is expected to take about 2 months to complete.
Following injection, a comprehensive monitoring program will be implemented to ensure that the injected CO2 is safely and permanently stored. The position of the underground CO2 plume will be tracked, and deep subsurface, groundwater, and surface monitoring around the injection site will be conducted. The monitoring program will be evaluated yearly and modified as needed.
The project under which this effort is being performed will, on average, create nearly 250 full-time jobs per year. These jobs will be supported throughout the project’s life of more than ten years, thus resulting in more than 2,500 job-years (calculated as the number of full-time jobs per year times the number of years that the jobs are supported.)
MGSC is one of seven regional partnerships in a nationwide network that is investigating the comparative merits of numerous carbon capture and storage approaches to determine those best suited for different regions of the country. The consortium is investigating options for the 60,000 square mile Illinois Basin, which underlies most of Illinois, southwestern Indiana, and western Kentucky. Emissions in this area exceed 304 million metric tonnes of CO2 yearly, mostly attributed to the region's 126 coal-fired power plants.