Ethanol byproducts to be pumped deep into a sandstone formation
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Carbon dioxide byproducts from an Archer Daniels Midland Company ethanol plant will be injected 7,000 feet deep into an Illinois sandstone formation in the first million-ton carbon sequestration demonstration in the U.S.
Although geo-engineering is not without controversy, top administration officials say geologic storage of CO2 could be an important part of climate mitigation strategies.
The CO2 will be captured during the ethanol fermentation process and compressed into a dense liquid for permanent storage beneath several layers of shale that are dense enough to cap the greenhouse gas. There are more than 100 carbon sequestration project at some stage of development, but the Illinois effort.
“Establishing long-term, environmentally safe and secure underground CO2 storage is a critical component in achieving successful commercial deployment of carbon capture, utilization and storage technology,” said Chuck McConnell, an executive with the Department of Energy’s office of fossil energy. “This injection test project by the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium … are helping confirm the great potential and viability of permanent geologic storage as an important option in climate change mitigation strategies.”
The Mt. Simon Sandstone is the thickest and most widespread saline reservoir in the Illinois Basin, which covers two-thirds of Illinois and reaches into western Indiana and western Kentucky. The estimated CO2 storage capacity of the Mt. Simon is 11 to 151 billion metric tons.
The regional midwestern group is one of seven partnerships created by the Department of Energy to advance technologies nationwide for capturing and permanently storing greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change.
“We are poised to reap the economic and environmental benefits that this public-private partnership has produced,” said Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. “This successful project gives Illinois a competitive advantage to attract green businesses and address our climate change responsibilities.”
Experts say the lower Mt. Simon Sandstone formation has the necessary geological characteristics to be an excellent injection target for safe and effective storage of CO2. The $96 million Illinois Basin – Decatur Project was funded in 2007 and now marks the beginning of the injection of 1 million metric tons of CO2 over the next three years.
The Illinois State Geological Survey is managing the project, which is permitted under requirements of both the Illinois and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies as the first large demonstration-scale injection of CO2 from a biofuel production facility anywhere in the U.S.