Berg and Frailey Advocate for Energy Frontier Research Centers in Congressional Briefing
Scott Frailey, Senior Reservoir Engineer, and Richard Berg, Illinois State Geological Survey Director, traveled to Washington, DC, on April 16 to participate in a Congressional briefing on the Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) in Illinois. The briefing was hosted in collaboration with Congressman Randy Hultgren, Congressman Dan Lipinski, and Congressman Bill Foster. The EFRC program, which is overseen by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences of the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE), supports transformative basic energy research that has the potential to change energy generation, transmission, storage, and usage. Illinois is home to four EFRCs: two at Northwestern University, one at Argonne National Laboratory, and the new Center for Geologic Storage of CO2 (GSCO2) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Frailey and Berg were joined in the briefing by Terry McLennand, Prairie Research Institute Director of External Affairs.
In the briefing, Frailey discussed recent field pilot and demonstration carbon dioxide (CO2) storage projects funded by the Office of Fossil Energy of the USDOE. In these tests, very comprehensive data sets were collected; however, some limitations to the existing technology were noted. The GSCO2 is addressing two CO2 storage challenges: (1) the ability to predict the location and distribution of the injected CO2 within the storage reservoir, and (2) the ability to identify the mechanism(s) causing injection-induced microseismicity so that its occurrence can be predicted, located, and controlled. In collaboration within researchers from many different disciplines, the GSCO2 researches basic energy science concepts to find solutions to recognized problems in CO2 storage technology that will lead to improving or replacing the current technology. The aim is to generate new conceptual, mathematical, and numerical models for geologic reservoir CO2 storage systems that address the limitations observed in field tests and laboratory experiments.
Frailey concluded his presentation by stating that CO2 storage is important to Illinois for several reasons: (1) to lead improvements in technology for commercial deployment of CO2 storage; (2) to address environmental concerns regarding continued use of Illinois coal; (3) as a source of CO2 for enhanced oil recovery in Illinois oilfields; and (4) to further overall economic development with the state.
The GSCO2 has four research themes: Geology: Characterization and Geocellular Modeling; Geophysics; Geomechanics; and Multiphysics Flow and Transport. The GSCO2 researchers are from the Illinois State Geological Survey, National Energy Technology Laboratory, NORSAR, Schlumberger Carbon Services, SINTEF, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Notre Dame, University of Southern California, University of Texas at Austin, and Wright State University,
After the briefing, representatives from the three organizations hosting EFRCs—Northwestern University, Argonne National Laboratory, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—received a letter signed by 86 members of Congress stating their commitment to funding the Office of Basic Energy Sciences.