Environment

Construction of USA’s first large-scale industrial carbon capture and storage facility begins

Construction of USA’s first la...
The drilling of an injection well in Decatur, Illinois that will be part of the first large-scale ICCS facility in the U.S. (Image: MGSC)
The drilling of an injection well in Decatur, Illinois that will be part of the first large-scale ICCS facility in the U.S. (Image: MGSC)
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The drilling of an injection well in Decatur, Illinois that will be part of the first large-scale ICCS facility in the U.S. (Image: MGSC)
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The drilling of an injection well in Decatur, Illinois that will be part of the first large-scale ICCS facility in the U.S. (Image: MGSC)

While some see carbon capture and storage as akin to sweeping CO2 emissions under the carpet, others believe it is a necessary short-term solution in the transition to a clean energy future. Last week, ground was broken on construction of the U.S.'s first large-scale industrial carbon capture and storage (ICCS) facility that aims to demonstrate that CO2 emissions can be stored permanently in deep underground rock formations.

The facility being built in Decatur, Illinois, is designed to capture and store approximately 2,500 metric tons of CO2 per day in the saline Mount Simon Sandstone formation at depths of around 7,000 feet (2,133 m). Researchers estimate that the sandstone formation has the potential to store billions of tons of CO2 and has the overall potential to sequester all of the more than 250 million tons of CO2 produced each year by industry in the Illinois Basin region.

The CO2 to be sequestered is a byproduct of processing corn into fuel-grade ethanol at a biofuels plant adjacent to the storage site run by Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), which is leading the project as part of the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC). All of the captured CO2 will be produced by biologic fermentation and will give the facility a negative carbon footprint.

Drilling of an injection well at the 207-acre project site began in February 2009 and last week's ceremonial groundbreaking and marked the next step of the project, which will see a CO2 dehydration/compression facility constructed near the biofuels plant along with a 3,200-foot-long (975 m) pipeline that will transport the CO2 to the well. Carbon capture and storage operations are due to commence in late summer 2013.

The ADM team, which includes Schlumberger Carbon Services, the Illinois State Geological Survey, and Richland Community College, was selected in October 2009 by the DoE to conduct one of 12 projects in Phase 1 of its ICCS program. The DoE then selected it as one of three projects to receive continued Phase 2 funding in June 2010. The project is managed by the DoE's National Energy Technology Laboratory, which received US$141 million in Recovery Act funding and another $65.5 million private sector cost-sharing.

"Illinois is at the forefront of helping ensure the U.S. remains competitive in the global clean energy economy, creating new jobs while reducing carbon pollution," said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "This first of its kind project will bring jobs to Illinois while advancing technology that the United States can sell around the world."

The project will also see the formation of an educational and training facility called the National Sequestration Education Center, which is slated to be housed at nearby Richland Community College in Decatur. The center will contain classrooms, training, and laboratory facilities, and will offer students associate degrees in sequestration technology.

18 comments
Todd Dunning
This is the same Steven Chu that decided we should paint all of our roofs white and no longer allow black cars.
This is why the Department of Energy needs to be simply removed from the Federal budget. More pure useless pork at the cost of legitimate science research with real issues (like cancer) that deserve your dollars.
$141 million in stimulus funding. Just great. At least they\'re corect that it\'s creating \'green jobs\' for handpicked cronies. But it\'s no longer 2006, and fortunately more people are aware that this is real money, taken not only from our pockets but the Chinese govt\'s - plus compounding interest.
Derek Howe
I couldn\'t agree with you more Todd Dunning.
Slowburn
Maybe we\'ll be able to get the power back out of the ground using little turbines on the well heads when we look back at AGW the same way we look at Madoff, and Piltdown man.
Mark Petereit
Lets see here, we have an Illinois (wink, wink) university and a multi-billion dollar corporation getting millions (billions?) of tax dollars to turn food into an inefficient, corrosive fuel, now building an underground storage facility they can use to hide their highly toxic waste, all under the guise of sequestering carbon to \"save the planet\" from global warming that has now been PROVEN not to be caused by carbon in the atmosphere.
I think this article may have just set a new record for journalistic, legislative, scientific and economic FAIL.
Facebook User
as much as i love the DOE, even steven chu admitted most of his job is preoccupied with the DOE\'s primary mission of NUCLEAR FUEL AND WEAPONS SECURITY.
this is probably the best explanation as to why the DOE\'s efforts to engage in alternative energy research have been such objective failures. unlike Darpa, the DOE has not had any good investments. sadly, beauracratic disentanglement seems impossible, and thus we must be resigned to seeing tax dollars wasted on nonsense like carbon sequestration, which ranks among other projects such as sulphurizing the air, salting the ocean with iron, and a few other insane projects that have had government subsidies on behalf of global warming mitigation projects.
it is truly sad to see the government so bloated with money and so void of common sense that no one could veto projects like this. carbon sequestration ranks amongst other projects such as salting the ocean with iron, researching the possibility of sulphurizing and dusting the atmosphere to reflect back radiation out of the atmosphere.
how can you pollute the environment in the name of saving the environment? this is the kind if insane thinking you\'d expect out of a remorseless coal corporation, but instead you get global warming alarmists doing this stuff. as a traditional environmentalist, i find this astounding, and along with the nonstop calls for cap and trade , for the benefit of wall street and nothing else, as well as calls for carbon taxes, which would NOT stop pollution by any stretch of the imagination and are only designed to bankrupt corporation by putting their money in governments\' purse.
if you want to stop coal mining , i won\'t accept taxing it. you must simply ban it in some places and or shut down plants.
no more policy by taxing corporation which just pass the cost on too consumers.
real policy requires command regulation, not complex regulatory and tax schemes.
David Sloan
Now Al Gore can start trading in green house credits . . . the big phony!
mboyd
Todd Dunning: what\'s wrong with white roofs? they may not look as good as black roofs, but they should reflect an awful lot of heat that would otherwise be added to your cooling bill.
James Dugan
What? No pro-AGW voices? I\'m SHOCKED! SHOCKED, I tell you! As much grief as I get over posting anti-AGW articles on my facebook and googleplus pages, I expected far more pro-AGW voices here.
I guess people are figuring THAT one out....
Green Energy? no such a thing...it ALL has a \'problem\' if you\'re concerned about that.
CO2? It\'s not the problem....
...technically - slightly interesting. Politically and Financially? This is a boondoggle....
KellyRW
Anything ever considered waste turns out to be a resource that is simply at the wrong place or time. I hope this means of storing carbon allows it to be retrieved for use when desired.
999 HOT
So...
what\'s needed next is to process the carbon dioxide into useful carbon fibre, to manufacture products directly from that using an upgraded 3D printing process.
Finding a use for the oxygen would probably be the easier part.
Mass production out of thin air?