Illinois Continues Successful Injection of CO2: 500,000-Metric-Ton Mark Reached

Illinois Basin–Decatur Project. Photos by MGSC.

The Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium’s (MGSC’s) Illinois Basin–Decatur Project (IBDP) is a collaborative effort among the MGSC, the Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), Schlumberger Carbon Services, and other subcontractors to inject 1 million metric tons of anthropogenic CO2 at a depth of 7,000 feet at a site owned by ADM in Decatur, Illinois. ADM provides the CO2 as a by-product of its production of fuel ethanol from Illinois corn. MGSC is one of seven regional partnerships funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to test the safety and effectiveness of carbon capture and storage as a measure to reduce emission of CO2, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

The IBDP began operational injection on November 17, 2011. In early June 2013, a major milestone was reached as the injected volume reached the 500,000-metric-ton mark. Injection will continue through late 2014, at which time the injection operation will shut down when 1 million metric tons have been injected. Environmental monitoring will continue for at least three more years, but likely longer. To date, the injection has proceeded as planned, with the receiving reservoir, the Mount Simon Sandstone, readily accepting the injected volume of 1,000 metric tons per day. Capacity, injectivity, and containment have all met preinjection expectations, and researchers continue to focus on validating the project’s environmental framework, understanding the CO2 distribution in the subsurface, and improving operations and monitoring well equipment. Pressure readings from an observation well 1,000 feet from the injection well suggest that the injected CO2 has not reached the middle of the 1,500-foot-thick Mt. Simon reservoir. Models that project the movement of the CO2 plume over 100 years suggest that the CO2 will remain below this level. Data from a 3-D vertical seismic profile acquired in early April 2013 are expected to further define the position of the plume.

The IBDP research effort, part of the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership Program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy/National Energy Technology Laboratory, is now complemented by the development of an additional injection capacity of 2,000 metric tons per day, under development as part of the Illinois Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage project. Both sites are at the ADM facilities in Decatur. The combined projects will allow evaluation of subsurface injected CO2 from two high-volume injection wells that together will advance understanding of the volumes to be handled at a scale much more resembling storage from a commercial pulverized coal power plant.

The IBDP has attracted international attention as one of the few onshore projects in the world that has successfully reached the demonstration stage, and numerous international guests have visited the site. Countries represented include Norway, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Spain, Japan, Brazil, and others. The project site was the highlight of the International Energy Agency’s Fifth International CO2 Capture and Storage Summer School for graduate students and young professionals, which was held in the United States for the first time in 2010. Worldwide interest in the project continues, and lessons learned to date will be detailed in an invited seminar for European researchers to be held in Oslo, Norway, in October 2013.