A project aimed at demonstrating the commercial viability of carbon capture, utilization and storage technology has injected 317,000 metric tons of CO2 in its first year, from an industrial plant into a subterranean reservoir.
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 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 so far by data accumulated from continuous monitoring of the site, according to the National Energy Technology Laboratory at the US Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy. 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,” the NETL says.
In total, the project should inject 1 million metric tons of CO2 into the reservoir. NETL says the demonstration-scale project provides the opportunity to test how a real-world injection operation will perform where brief interruptions occur, such as planned maintenance of the compression equipment and conducting of various well tests, as required by regulations.
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 Department says.
In October, GE Global Research signed a contract with NETL to build a multi-point sensing system to monitor carbon dioxide injected into geothermal containment wells, such as the one at Mount Simon. GE says its goal is to develop an incredibly resilient cable and sensor system that can withstand an extremely harsh environment – temperatures as hot as 482°F and pressures topping 10,000 psi – for an extended period of time. The company has already developed a single sensor system that can tolerate temperatures as high as 705°F and 3,000 psi for short periods.