The Midwest now boasts the United States' first large scale carbon sequestration project working in conjunction with a biofuel plant.
Carbon dioxide emissions from an Archer Daniels Midland Company corn ethanol plant are being pressurized and stored beneath the Mount Simon sandstone formation near Decatur, Illinois by the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC), led by the Illinois State Geological Survey, part of the University of Illinois' Prairie Research Institute.
Pumping was fully operational by November 16, Libby Johnston, communications director for the Prairie Research Institute, told Discovery News.
Now, approximately 1000 tonnes (1.1 tons) of liquefied carbon dioxide are being trapped in the bowels of the Earth per day, reported Decatur's Herald Review
Over the next three years, one million tonnes (1.1 million tons) of the liquefied gas will be pumped approximately 7,000 feet (1.3 miles, 2.1 kilometers) beneath the surface.
"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, Chief Operating Officer for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy, in a press release.
"This injection test project by MGSC, as well as those undertaken by other FE regional partnerships, are helping confirm the great potential and viability of permanent geologic storage as an important option in climate change mitigation strategies," said McConnell.
The project was funded with $96 million in 2007.
"The analysis of data collected beginning in 2003 indicates that the lower Mt. Simon Sandstone has the necessary geological characteristics to be an excellent injection target for safe and effective storage of CO2," said Robert Finley, director of the Illinois State Geological Survey's sequestration team in a press release.
The Mount Simon formation has room for 11 to 151 billion metric tonnes of liquefied carbon dioxide, according to Finley. Several layers of shale create an impermeable cap rock to hold the carbon dioxide in place.
The sequestration system has some of the most advanced environmental monitoring of any similar project worldwide, said Finley.
"Four years of effort are coming to fruition at a site with unique capabilities, some of them first-in-the-world with respect to the extensive subsurface monitoring system. It's a strategic investment in Illinois' future," said Prairie Research Institute Executive Director, William Shilts in a press release.
A typical ethanol plant in West Burlington, Iowa (USDA, Wikimedia Commons)
Schematic showing both terrestrial and geological sequestration of carbon dioxide emissions from a coal-fired plant (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Wikimedia Commons)