The Midwest region of the United States, which is heavily dependent on coal-based energy and has a large industrial base, has very high carbon dioxide emissions. Concern over the potential effects of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide on global climate has prompted studies on ways to reduce emissions of these gases. Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) is seen as the quickest and most cost-effective way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants, gas processing operations and cement and steel industries. However, before CCS can be approved for large-scale commercial use, we need to prove the safety and efficacy of geologic storage in controlled field tests.
Battelle has led the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP) since 2003. MRCSP is a unique public-private collaboration of nearly 40 government, industry and university partners who have joined together to assess the technical potential, economic viability and public acceptability of CCS for the U.S. Department of Energy.
Validation of the storage potential requires regional geologic exploration along with site-specific demonstrations of carbon dioxide injection and monitoring. Each demonstration incorporates extensive characterization, reservoir modeling, permitting, outreach, injection and monitoring of a deep permeable reservoir that is capped by an impermeable seal.
Between 2005 and 2009, we completed three successful small-scale carbon storage field tests in deep saline reservoirs and identified subsurface rock formations that could provide excellent storage in the region. Monitoring techniques tested were found to be useful in tracking the movement of carbon dioxide and confirming the effectiveness of the seal. The results of these tests as well as regional mapping demonstrated that the region’s deep geologic reservoirs have the theoretical potential to sequester all of the region’s carbon dioxide emissions from large point sources.
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Additional research is now underway to investigate the potential of using the captured carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery operations. MRCSP has initiated a large-scale carbon injection program in a series of oil-bearing fields in Michigan. The goal is to inject, monitor, and model one million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Battelle is testing a variety of monitoring techniques, such as vertical seismic profiling, microseismic monitoring, borehole gravity survey, and remote sensing. We are also improving reservoir models for site selection and risk mitigation, and developing methods to correlate injection data with log, core and other site characterization data. In November of 2013, this project was awarded recognition by the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum for international data sharing.