The Wyoming Rock Springs Uplift could potentially store 14 to 17 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, according to results from a Department of Energy-sponsored study.
The EPA in September released a draft of the rules that effectively require new coal-fired plants to capture and store a portion of the carbon dioxide they produce.
The project team — led by the University of Wyoming’s Carbon Management Institute and sponsored by the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory — gathered geologic, hydrologic and geochemical data from a 12,810-foot-deep stratigraphic test well drilled to evaluate the area’s potential as a long-term, high-volume carbon storage site. The Rock Springs Uplift, a geologic feature in southwestern Wyoming, was found to have the sought-after combination of (1) ideal geological characteristics for carbon storage, and (2) proximity to some of Wyoming’s largest sources of anthropogenic CO2 emissions.
The researchers discovered that, along with the promise of a prime CO2 storage space, the deep saline waters of the Rock Springs Uplift contain high, commercially viable concentrations of lithium: ~190 parts per million for the Weber/Tensleep Sandstone, and ~130 parts per million for the Madison Limestone. For every 1 million metric tons of CO2 stored, approximately 250 metric tons of lithium carbonate, with an approximate market value of $1.6 million, could be recovered from processed brine.
Lithium, which is used in batteries and other electronics applications, has become vital as many nations transition to greener technologies. The recovered lithium could generate revenue to offset the cost of CO2 storage and help reduce the need for lithium import.
This research effort, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, will provide information to the National Carbon Sequestration Database and Geographic Information System (NATCARB), a geographic information system-based tool developed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory to provide a view of carbon capture and storage potential nationwide. The results could also lay the groundwork for a future large-scale carbon capture and storage project in Wyoming.