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Carbon sequestration put to the test



February 25, 2008
By Rob Colman

Carbon sequestration is a process that both the Alberta
and Federal governments hope will both reduce carbon dioxide emissions and be a
boon to industry players that invest in the technology. Now, a U.S. research
team that includes partners from industry, academia and government has begun a
test of injecting high pressure carbon dioxide into a deep saline geologic
formation more that 3,000 feet underground, 11 miles east of the City of
Gaylord, Michigan.

 

The experiment, part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s
Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP)
Phase II Project, is designed to provide better understanding of the potential
for deep-underground storage (called geologic sequestration) as a means to
prevent carbon dioxide from being emitted to the atmosphere, where it is
believed to contribute to climate change.

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"This sequestration field test by our Midwest
partnership region serves as one of many ongoing nationwide tests to
demonstrate the feasibility of permanently storing greenhouse gases," said
Jim Slutz, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy.
"The success of each of these tests moves the nation’s carbon sequestration
program another step closer to determining the processes best suited to address
the overall issue of global warming."

 

MRCSP began injecting the carbon dioxide in early February
and expects to complete the injection of 10,000 tons by the end of March 2008.
The carbon dioxide is being captured from a DTE Energy natural gas processing
plant about eight miles from injection site. The pressurized, high-density
carbon dioxide is transported to the injection well through an existing
pipeline.

 

After injection is complete, scientists will conduct tests
to determine how the carbon dioxide responds to being contained within the
targeted geologic formations. The results of those tests are expected to be
available in later in 2008.

 

The MRCSP, one of seven Department of Energy-sponsored regional
partnerships, is led by Battelle, a non-profit global leader in technology
development and commercialization.

The MRCSP includes a 30-plus member team of state and
federal officials, leading universities, state geological surveys,
non-governmental organizations, and private companies in the eight-state region
of Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and
West Virginia.

 

Partners involved in the Michigan Basin test, in addition
to Battelle and the site operator, Core Energy LLC, include DTE Energy, the
Michigan Geological Repository for Research and Education at Western Michigan
University, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Office of Geological Survey.

 

David Ball, Battelle’s project manager for MRCSP, said
this carbon dioxide sequestration field test draws on several advantages of
this site, including the infrastructure for supplying and transporting carbon
dioxide due to DTE Energy and Core Energy commercial operations there along
with suitable geologic formations for storage of carbon dioxide in the area.

 

"Although the test is very small in scale, it holds
great promise as an important step in building our knowledge and helping future
generations to address global warming," Ball said.

 

Geoscientists at the Michigan Geological Repository for
Research and Education at Western Michigan University have concluded from their
research carried out for MRCSP that formations throughout the state may contain
enough capacity to store hundreds of years’ worth of current emission levels
from large point sources of carbon dioxide in the state.

 

Ball points out that the ability to inject carbon dioxide
into deep geological formations is only part of the solution. "For geologic
sequestration to be successful, we will need to develop reliable, efficient and
economical technologies to separate or, in other words, capture carbon dioxide
from large fossil fuel fired processes like those at power plants, steel mills,
cement plants and other industrial operations," he said. "Research is
progressing in that area, but economical capture technology is not ready for
commercial application today."

 

Source – DTE Energy www.dteenergy.com


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