The new National Sequestration Education Center (NSEC) is a 15,000 square-foot sustainably designed center that will contain classrooms and training and laboratory facilities. | Photo courtesy of Richland Community College.

In Decatur, Illinois, a new carbon capture and storage project is not only storing carbon dioxide -- it’s training the next generation of carbon capture experts.

The Illinois Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage (ICCS) Project is one of the nation’s largest carbon capture and storage endeavors. Part of the project includes the National Sequestration Education Center (NSEC), located nearby on the campus of Richland Community College.     

NSEC is a 15,000 square-foot sustainably designed center that will contain classrooms and training and laboratory facilities, including renewable energy features such as wind turbine, solar, geothermal, and biomass technology. The nation’s first associate degree programs in carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) -- the process of capturing and storing or re-using carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-fired power plants and industrial sources -- will be available at the NSEC.  

With CO2 injection monitoring instruments networked into the NSEC, students will gain first-hand experience with the sequestration technologies demonstrated by the project partners and others. Beginning this fall, Richland will offer an Associate of Applied Science degree in Engineering Technology with Sequestration Specialty. Beginning in the fall of 2013, the college plans to eventually offer an Associate of Science degree with Sequestration Concentration, a university transfer degree.   

In addition, the NSEC will provide community and regional outreach on CCUS through its state-of-the-art interactive visitor’s center. It will also offer workforce development for CCUS industries and facilitate ongoing professional development.

As part of the Energy Department’s broader initiative to advance CCUS, the ICCS project will integrate the nearby Illinois Basin Decatur Project’s CO2 processing facilities with new facilities to inject and safely store 1 million tons of CO2 each year. When operations begin in 2013, the CO2 will be captured from Archer Daniels Midland’s ethanol plant in Decatur, transported via a mile-long pipeline, and injected deep underground into the Mt. Simon Sandstone saline reservoir. The reservoir has an estimated CO2 storage capacity of as much as 151 billion metric tons.  

The Illinois ICCS project is supported by the Energy Department’s Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). The project is led by Archer Daniels Midland, in a partnership that includes Schlumberger Carbon Services, University of Illinois-Illinois State Geological Survey, and Richland Community College.

CCUS is critical to the president’s strategy to secure the nation’s energy future by developing every source of American energy in a way that’s smart and sustainable. The Illinois ICCS project and the NSEC build on decades of research and development to bring us closer to that goal -- and to ensure that the United States keeps the lead in the clean energy technology race.