Washington, D.C. — The Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP), one of seven partnerships in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships program, has successfully injected 1,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the Mount Simon Sandstone, a deep saline formation that is widespread across much of the Midwest.
Preliminary results indicate that the formation has good CO2 storage potential and could possibly serve as a repository for CO2 emissions captured from stationary sources in the region. Carbon capture and storage is considered to be a key technological solution to reduce CO2 emissions and combat climate change.
In the controlled test, members of the MRCSP research team injected liquefied CO2 at Duke Energy’s East Bend Generating Station, located along the Ohio River near the town of Rabbit Hash in Boone County, Kentucky. The CO2 was injected into the lowest 100 feet of the Mount Simon Sandstone, which is present at the East Bend site at approximately 3,230 to 3,530 feet below ground. The formation has properties that are considered conducive to CO2 storage, such as the appropriate depth, thickness, porosity, and permeability; in addition the formation is overlain by layers of low-permeability rock that should keep the CO2 safely and permanently confined.
Before drilling the test well, the partnership conducted a seismic survey at the site and obtained permits for the injection test from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Kentucky Division of Oil and Gas. The research team then injected clean brine, as required in the permit issued by the EPA, to determine formation properties such as the maximum safe injection pressure. Following brine injection, a total of approximately 1,000 metric tons of CO2 were injected in two 500-metric-ton steps, concluding on September 25th. The injection rate, pressure, temperature, and quantity of CO2 in the formation were measured throughout the test to confirm that the injection proceeded as planned.
Over the next two years, the MRSCP team will monitor groundwater at the site to ensure that it is unaffected by the CO2. Underground sources of drinking water are located within a few hundred feet of the surface in the region, far above the injection zone. The Eau Clair Shale provides approximately 450 feet of containment above the injection zone, thereby ensuring the safety of drinking water supplies.
The Office of Fossil Energy (FE) launched the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships program in 2003 to develop and validate carbon sequestration technologies as part of a national strategy to mitigate global climate change. The partnerships include more than 350 organizations, spanning 43 states and four Canadian provinces. FE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory manages the partnerships program.
MRCSP is led by Battelle, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, and includes more than 30 partners and stakeholders in nine states (Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia). The East Bend test follows in the footsteps of two other MRCSP injection tests that have taken place in other parts of the region: the Appalachian Basin Test at the R. E. Burger Power Plant in Shadyside, Ohio, and the Michigan Basin test near Gaylord, Mich., in which more than 60,000 metric tons of CO2 were safely injected into a deep saline formation called the Bass Islands Dolomite.
In addition to Battelle and Duke Energy, key partners and technical contributors involved in the East Bend field test include the Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio Geological Surveys.