ADM CO2 sequestration, education project moving forward

By Holly Jessen | September 01, 2011

A ground breaking ceremony was held in late August, commemorating the start of construction on a carbon capture and storage facility at an ethanol plant, as well as an educational and training facility at a nearby community college.

The demonstration project at Archer Daniels Midland Co.’s Decatur, Ill., ethanol plant is the first large-scale carbon capture project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to move into construction phase. Using $114 million in recovery act funding and $66.5 million in private sector funding, the project aims to capture and store one million tons of CO2 yearly. “The work of the Illinois [industrial carbon capture and sequestration] project will help move carbon capture and storage technologies closer to commercial deployment,” said Scott McDonald, director of ADM biofuels development. “The successful implementation of these advanced technologies will help significantly reduce carbon emissions by storing CO2 from manufacturing operations deep underground.”

Just a short distance away, at Richland Community College, a facility is being built where students can earn associate degrees in sequestration technology. In addition, it will house visual displays to help educate members of the public. “The National Sequestration Education Center will provide a unique educational value to researchers and visitors from around the world by experiencing the sequestration technologies demonstrated on the Richland campus,” said Gayle Saunders, president of the college.

ADM and its team, including Schlumberger Carbon Services, the Illinois State Geological Survey, and the community college, were selected by U.S. DOE in October 2009 to conduct one of 12 carbon capture and storage projects. About 2,500 metric tons of CO2 will be captured and stored daily in the in the saline Mount Simon Sandstone formation at depths of approximately 7,000 feet, the DOE said. In all, researchers estimate the sandstone formation could potentially store billions of tons of CO2, which could include all of the 250 million tons of CO2 produced yearly by industries in the Illinois Basin region. Reducing emissions of CO2 through advanced technologies is a key objective of the Obama Administration’s efforts to help mitigate the effects of global climate change.

Due to the fact that it’s at an ethanol plant, the ADM project has a special feature. “Because all of the captured CO2 is produced from biologic fermentation, a significant feature of the project is its ‘negative carbon footprint,’ meaning that the sequestration results in a net reduction of atmospheric CO2,” the DOE said.  

Actual capture and storage of CO2 is expected to begin in late summer 2013. That phase of the project will create about 260 jobs and help add to the understanding of long-term CO2 storage in saline formations. “Illinois is at the forefront of helping ensure the U.S. remains competitive in the global clean energy economy, creating new jobs while reducing carbon pollution,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “This first of its kind project will bring jobs to Illinois while advancing technology that the United States can sell around the world.”