A U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) team of regional partners has begun injecting 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into a Michigan geologic formation believed to be capable of storing hundreds of years’ worth of the greenhouse gas. This attempt follows an initial project at that site, which entailed the injection of 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide.
The Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP), led by Battelle of Columbus, Ohio, began injecting the CO2 this week in the Michigan Basin near Gaylord, Mich., in a deep saline formation, the Silurian-age Bass Island dolomite.
When the six-month project is completed, the total 60,000 metric ton injection at the Michigan site will mark the largest deep saline reservoir injection in the U.S. to date and will allow scientists to more fully evaluate how CO2 moves through the basin’s geologic formation, the DOE said. Injections are expected to take place at an average rate of 250 tons per day up to a maximum rate of 600 tons.
The MRCSP is one of seven partnerships in the DOE’s Carbon Sequestration Partnership Program, which was created to assess optimal CO2 storage approaches in each region of the country. The program is managed for the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).
Earlier this year, the Energy Department’s Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership began injecting CO2 at the test site in Russell County, Virginia. That project entails a converted coalbed methane well and two wells that had been drilled to monitor reservoir pressure, gas composition, and the CO2 plume.
“[The Michigan] injection test, one of three performed by our Midwest partner, will significantly increase our understanding of CO2 storage technologies and practices in a real-world setting,” said Victor Der, principal deputy assistant secretary for Fossil Energy. “This project will not only provide important information about promising sequestration techniques but it will also go a long way toward creating jobs in the energy sector.”
During the Michigan basin injection process, the Midwest team will provide additional insight into the knowledge gained from the initial test in 2008. The team will record geochemical changes to the system as well as the distribution of the CO2 along the wellbore. A larger volume of CO2 injected over a longer period of time will also provide scientists with additional insight into temperature and pressure responses in the geologic formation, as well as information about any seasonal changes to the system.
The area is ideal for the test because it is home to an existing oil and gas field, where enhanced oil recovery operations are being conducted by well owner Core Energy LLC. The area already contains much of the needed infrastructure, such as CO2 compressors, injection systems, existing wells, and pipelines, including an 8-mile-long transport pipeline.
The CO2 being injected comes from a natural gas processing plant owned by DTE Energy, located near Gaylord, where the CO2 will be transported via the 8-mile pipeline to the well. The depth of the injection (3,500 feet) is significantly below the 1,000-foot level of drinking water sources and does not pose any danger to them.
The DOE launched the Carbon Sequestration Partnership Program in 2003 to develop and validate technologies to store and monitor CO2 in various geologic formations around the country as part of a national strategy to combat global climate change.
The MRCSP team includes more than 30 partners from state and federal organizations, leading universities, state geological surveys, nongovernmental organizations, and private companies in the eight-state region of Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. In addition to Battelle, Core Energy, and DTE, other participants include the Michigan Geological Repository for Research and Education at Western Michigan University, Stanford University Geophysics Department, Schlumberger, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Geological Survey.