Large-Scale Field Tests
Drill rig setup at a geologic storage site
Drill rig setup at a geologic storage site

DOE is supporting a number of large-scale (greater than 1 million metric tons CO2 injected) field tests in different geologic storage formations to confirm that CO2 capture, transportation, injection, and storage can be achieved safely, permanently, and economically over extended periods. Results from these tests will provide a more thorough understanding of CO2 migration and permanent storage within various types of depositional systems and formation types. The storage formations being tested are considered regionally significant and have the potential to store hundreds of years of CO2 stationary source emissions.

Specifically, large-scale field tests are designed to address practical issues, such as sustainable injectivity, well design for both integrity and storage resource utilization, and reservoir behavior with respect to prolonged injection. Complete assessments of these issues are necessary to validate and improve model predictions concerning the behavior of injected CO2 at scale; establish the engineering and scientific processes for successfully implementing and validating long-term, safe storage of CO2; and achieve cost-effective integration with power plants and other large emission sources for carbon capture.

The large-scale field projects require extensive site screening, selection, and characterization, operations, closure phase, and post-closure monitoring efforts. In order to validate that carbon capture and storage (CCS) can be conducted at a commercial scale, a number of key goals are being pursued by each of the large-scale projects:

  • CO2 injection well at an enhanced oil recovery site
    CO2 injection well at an enhanced oil recovery site
    Demonstrate adequate injectivity and available capacity at near-commercial scale by injecting CO2 over an extended period of time
  • Verify storage permanence by validating that CO2 will be contained in the target formations; develop technologies and protocols to quantify potential releases and that the projects do not adversely impact underground sources of drinking water (USDWs) or cause CO2 to be released to the atmosphere
  • Determine the areal extent of the CO2 plume and potential release pathways by monitoring the areal extent and vertical migration of the CO2 during and after project completion and develop methodologies to determine the presence of release pathways such that the proposed mitigation strategy can sustain a near-zero release
  • Develop risk assessment strategies by indentifying risk parameters, probability and potential impact of occurrence, and mitigation strategies
  • Engage in public outreach and education about CCS
  • Develop information that supports the development of an effective regulatory and legal framework for the safe, long-term injection and geologic CO2 storage in the regions that the projects are developed
Geologic storage formation fluid sampling
Geologic storage formation fluid sampling

The main component of DOE's large-scale field tests is the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership's (RCSP) Development Phase. The Development Phase, which initiated in 2008 and will continue through 2020, builds on the information generated in the Characterization and Validation Phases and involves the injection of at least 1 million metric tons or more of CO2 over several years by each RCSP into regionally significant geologic formations of different depositional environments. DOE acknowledges that CO2 sources vary widely from region to region and that some regions will have limited access to large volumes of CO2, resulting in varying injection volumes. The RCSPs are expected to maximize CO2 injection volumes that fully utilize the infrastructure of their region with actual injection volumes dependent on cost and availability of CO2. Sources of CO2 may include natural deposits, ethanol facilities, natural gas processing plants, or capture from power plants. Moving forward, NETL anticipates supporting additional large-scale geologic storage injections tests outside of the RCSP effort to help fill in the remaining gaps in the understanding of the complex issues surrounding the processes associated with the characterization, operations, and closure phases of a large-scale CO2 injection site.

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