Washington, DC - Construction activities have begun at an Illinois ethanol plant that will demonstrate carbon capture and storage. The project, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy, is the first large-scale integrated carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to move into the construction phase.

Led by the Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), a member of DOE’s Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium, the Illinois-ICCS project is designed to sequester approximately 2,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per day in the saline Mount Simon Sandstone formation at depths of approximately 7,000 feet. Researchers estimate that the sandstone formation can potentially store billions of tons of CO2 and has the overall potential to sequester all of the more than 250 million tons of CO2 produced each year by industry in the Illinois Basin region.

The injected CO2 will come from the byproduct from processing corn into fuel-grade ethanol at ADM’s biofuels plant adjacent to the storage site in Decatur, Illinois. 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.

In October 2009, DOE selected the ADM team--which now includes Schlumberger Carbon Services, the Illinois State Geological Survey, and Richland Community College--to conduct one of 12 projects in Phase 1 of its ICCS program, aimed at testing large-scale industrial CCS technologies. DOE then selected the project in June 2010 as one of three projects to receive continued (Phase 2) funding. The Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory manages the Illinois-ICCS project, which receives $141.4 million in ARRA funding and another $66.5 million private sector cost-sharing. Since ADM does not presently have a locally feasible CO2 re-utilization option, such as enhanced oil recovery, the federal funding offsets potential technical and economic risks and provides an opportunity for ADM and its partners to gather crucial scientific and engineering data in advance of carbon capture requirements.

The Illinois-ICCS project includes the design, construction, and demonstration of a CO2 compression and dehydration facility as a precursor to CO2 storage and subsequent monitoring, verification, and accounting of the stored CO2. The operations phase of the project--capture and storage of the CO2--is expected to begin in late summer 2013. The operations phase will create approximately 260 jobs and add to an understanding of long-term CO2 storage in saline formations.

The project is expected to move CCS technologies closer to commercial deployment. The successful development of advanced technologies that reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere is a key objective of the Obama Administration’s effort to help mitigate the effects of global climate change.

Integral to the project will be the formation of an educational and training facility, the National Sequestration Education Center, slated to be housed at nearby Richland Community College in Decatur. The center will contain classrooms, training, and laboratory facilities, and it will offer students associate degrees in sequestration technology.