ISGS Awarded a U.S. DOE Grant to Develop Commercial-Scale Geologic Carbon Storage Technologies

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The National Energy Technology Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) of the Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a $1.7 million grant to develop and validate brine extraction and treatment technologies that will facilitate commercialization of geologic storage of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas. This grant is part of DOE’s effort to mitigate the impacts of climate change through permanent storage of greenhouse gas deep underground. Brine extraction is expected to reduce pressure buildup in geological formations and thereby direct the CO2 plume to desired geologic formations. This will improve the economic viability of CO2 storage, create commercial efficiencies, and ensure containment effectiveness and permanence.

The project builds on the ISGS’s successful CO2 storage project, the Illinois Basin - Decatur Project, funded by DOE’s Carbon Storage program in which the greenhouse gas is stored 7,000 feet below the ground in the Mt. Simon Sandstone. Carbon dioxide injection into brine-saturated geologic formations, such as the Mt. Simon Sandstone, results in displaced brine and increased pressure in this formation. To ensure containment, the research includes understanding the movement of fluids and sources and the causes of potential microseismic activity. ISGS researchers will test the use of brine extraction wells to control CO2 movement and pressure and maximize storage efficiency. They will also develop and test technologies for treating the extracted brine for industrial use.

The current work is defined as Phase I of a two-phase project. This phase primarily involves computational geologic and multiphase flow modeling, brine handling, and brine-treatment facility design. The goal is to develop cost estimates and research plans that would best demonstrate the role of brine extraction in the geologic storage of CO2. The field validation of the brine extraction and treatment technologies developed by ISGS in Phase I will be part of a Phase II proposal; if the ISGS is selected, the Phase II grant of up to $30 million will be awarded in late 2016.

Partnering with the ISGS in Phase I are

  • Archer Daniels Midland, hosting two carbon storage projects, the Illinois Basin - Decatur Project and the Illinois Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage Project;
  • Schlumberger Carbon Services, providing operations and technical services; and
  • Trimeric (Austin, Texas), providing equipment and facility design.

The principal investigator at ISGS is Roland Okwen; the co-principal investigators are Seyed Dastgheib and Scott Frailey. For more information, contact Roland Okwen at or 217-244-2869.