Carbon storage partner completes first year of CO2 injection operations in Illinois

Washington, D.C. — A project important to demonstrating the commercial viability of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technology has completed the first year of injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) from an industrial plant at a large-scale test site in Illinois.

Led by the Illinois State Geological Survey, the Illinois Basin–Decatur Project is the first demonstration-scale project in the United States to use CO2 from an industrial source and inject it into a saline reservoir. The CO2 is being captured from an ethanol production facility operated by the Archer Daniels Midland Company in Decatur, Ill., and is being injected in a compressed “supercritical” state into the Mount Simon Sandstone reservoir some 7,000 feet below the surface. Injection operations were initiated November 17, 2011, with an average injection rate of 1,000 metric tons (1,100 short tons) daily.

Analysis of data collected during the characterization phase of the project indicated the lower Mount Simon formation has the necessary geological characteristics to be a good injection target, a conclusion supported thus far by data accumulated from continuous monitoring of the site. The results from various monitoring activities – including tracking the underground CO2 plume; sensing subsurface disturbances; and continuous scrutiny of groundwater, shallow subsurface, land surface, and atmosphere around the injection site – show the Mount Simon Sandstone reservoir is performing as expected, with very good injectivity, excellent storage capacity, and no significant adverse environmental issues.

Nearing the 1-year mark, 317,000 metric tons of CO2 have been injected, about one third of the planned 1 million metric ton injection volume. The demonstration-scale project provides the opportunity to test how a real-world injection operation will perform where brief interruptions—such as planned maintenance of the compression equipment and conducting of various well tests, as required by regulations—will occur.

Successfully testing and demonstrating CCUS technologies under real-world conditions is an important step toward eventual commercial deployment of the technology as an option in helping mitigate atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions.

The technologies applied and lessons learned from this project will also support industry in the region looking to develop CO2 capture and transport infrastructure, whether it is for carbon storage or enhanced oil recovery in the depleted oilfields in the Illinois Basin.

“FE is proud of the effort and diligence applied to this demonstration project during the past year, as well as during the development period leading up to injection,” said Charles McConnell, DOE’s Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy. “The work has been performed safely and with operational discipline to assure flawless performance; the volumes of CO2 injected have been measured, monitored, verified and accounted for; and we remain confident that the injected CO2 has been and will be safely and permanently stored. The Illinois Basin – Decatur Project is an important part of the FE portfolio of demonstrations, through both the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Clean Coal Power Initiative, that continue to further CCUS and meeting administration long-term goals for greenhouse gas reductions,” he said.

The seven regional partnerships in the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships program are investigating the merits of numerous CCUS approaches to determine those best suited for different regions of the country. The Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC) 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 291 million metric tons of CO2 yearly, mostly attributed to the region’s coal-fired power plants.

The Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) manages the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership program.