DOE touts early success of carbon capture and storage project in Illinois

The U.S. Department of Energy announced Jan. 8 that its Illinois Basin-Decatur Project has successfully captured and stored one million metric tons of CO2 and injected it into a deep saline formation.

The project is part of the development phase of DOE’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships initiative, which is helping develop and deploy carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies across the country.

“This milestone is an important step towards the widespread deployment of carbon capture technologies in real-world settings,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “The successful testing of these technologies and the lessons learned support a range of industries in the region, while also reducing the amount of emissions in the atmosphere and protecting the planet at the same time.”

The CO2 is captured from an Archer Daniels Midland Co. ethanol-production facility in Decatur, Illinois, and is compressed before traveling through a mile-long pipeline and injected approximately 7,000 feet below the surface into the Mount Simon Sandstone formation. Since a beginning in November 2011, the injection test has performed better than expected, sustaining pressure increases well below regulatory limits. Over the course of 100 years, the injected CO2 is projected to remain hundreds of feet below a 300-foot thick shale formation that will act as a seal and inhibit upward migration of the CO2.

The Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium, led by the Illinois State Geological Survey, is evaluating CCS options for the 60,000-square-mile Illinois Basin, which underlies most of Illinois, southwestern Indiana, and western Kentucky.

While this project does not directly involve coal, it is considered one of the key early tests of the kind of CCS system that would be needed for any new coal plants built in the U.S. under standards proposed in January 2014 by the U.S. EPA.