Groundbreaking study will help determine the future of geologic carbon sequestration
Archer Daniels Midland Company (NYSE: ADM) and its research collaborators today marked a milestone in one of the nation’s first large-scale projects intended to confirm that carbon dioxide emissions can be stored permanently in deep underground rock formations.
At a ceremonial groundbreaking celebrating the imminent completion of an approximately 8,000-foot-deep injection well on ADM’s Decatur, Ill., property, officials from ADM, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC), the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) and Schlumberger Carbon Services noted the significance of the Illinois Basin-Decatur project.
“The science and technology employed in this project may point the way to a future in which carbon emissions from manufacturing operations are commonly stored far below the Earth’s surface, rather than being emitted into the atmosphere,” said Robert Finley, director, Energy and Earth Resources Center, Illinois State Geological Survey, University of Illinois.
The project may also help determine whether geologic carbon sequestration can further improve the environmental footprint of alternative fuels such as ethanol by capturing and storing carbon emissions associated with their production.
In February 2009, Schlumberger Carbon Services began drilling the approximately 8,000-foot-deep injection well at the 207-acre project site near ADM’s corn wet mill in Decatur, Ill., which produces starch for fuel ethanol and a number of other products. Once the injection well is completed, a carbon dioxide dehydration/compression facility will be constructed near the corn wet mill and a 3,200-foot-long pipeline will also be constructed to transport carbon dioxide to the well.
Beginning in early 2010, carbon dioxide emitted during the ethanol fermentation process at the corn wet mill will be injected into the Mount Simon Sandstone, a large, saline water-bearing rock formation, at a rate of 1,000 metric tons per day. By 2013, a total of one million metric tons of carbon dioxide — roughly the annual emissions of 220,000 automobiles — is expected to be stored within the formation.
“We at Schlumberger are committed to applying our subsurface engineering expertise to make this project a technological success,” said David White, president of Schlumberger Carbon Services. “What is learnt here can be applied throughout the rest of the country, and we feel a real sense of urgency to validate new technologies to move beyond demonstration to full implementation where carbon capture and storage will make a major contribution to meeting the challenges of emissions reduction in a safe and reliable manner.”
The MGSC is one of seven regional carbon sequestration partnerships created by the U.S. Department of Energy to research and demonstrate suitable technologies and infrastructure needs for carbon sequestration in different regions of the United States and Canada. Of the seven partnership projects, the Illinois Basin-Decatur project is the first well permitted and drilled for a one million metric ton saline reservoir test.
“We at ADM are privileged to be working with the U.S. Department of Energy, the MGSC, the Illinois State Geological Survey, the University of Illinois and Schlumberger Carbon Services to advance our collective understanding of carbon sequestration, and to help lay the groundwork for a future in which capture and storage may form part of a comprehensive emissions-reduction strategy,” said ADM Chairman, CEO and President Patricia Woertz.
The information gained from the Illinois Basin-Decatur project will further the understanding of carbon sequestration technology around the world. Other large-scale carbon sequestration demonstration projects are taking place in Algeria, Canada and Norway.
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