11/22/11, "Carbon dioxide burial experiment commences," USA Today, Dan Vergano
"Federal environmental engineers will inject up to a million tons of condensed carbon dioxide underground over the next three years, in an experiment to check out "carbon sequestration" technology.
Some 7000 feet down, the fluidized gas will end up in the Mt. Simon formation underlying most of Illinois, a 1,500-foot thick layer of briny sandstone.
"This is the first project in the USA to do large volume injections of (carbon dioxide) in a saline reservoir," says John Litynski, of the Energy Department's National Energy Technology Laboratory. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, produced by burning fossil fuels such as coal, gasoline and natural gas. The injection experiment, which uses carbon dioxide produced at an ethanol plant, aims to verify the technology needed to move the gas from factories and power plants to underground storage in a bid (often called "clean coal")
- to stave off global warming effects.
However, Granger Morgan, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences steering committee on alternative energy and the social sciences, cautioned that carbon sequestration may need more public input into the technology. "We don't even know the right questions to ask if we don't see
- how the public views carbon sequestration," he says,
pointing to a recent academy report, Beyond Technology Strengthening Energy Policy through Social Science. "People don't understand how safe it is, but with education efforts,
- we can let them know that."
Ultimately, the Energy Department hopes to funnel carbon dioxide from the 120 or more coal-fired powered plant in the region around Illinois into underground sequestration, Litynski says. Those plants emit about 265 million metric tonnes of the gas yearly. That sounds like a lot, but the Mt. Simon formation is very large, capable of holding from 11 to 151 billion metric tons of condensed carbon dioxide, according to estimates."