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Midwest Has Potential to Store Hundreds of Years of CO2 Emissions

November 16, 2011 - 12:00pm


Washington, DC - Geologic capacity exists to permanently store hundreds of years of regional carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in nine states stretching from Indiana to New Jersey, according to injection field tests conducted by the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP).

MRCSP’s just-released Phase II final report indicates the region has likely total storage of 245.5 billion metric tons of CO2, mostly in deep saline rock formations, a large capacity compared to present day emissions. While distributed sources such as agriculture, transportation, and home heating account for a significant amount of CO2 emissions in the MRCSP area, over half of the emissions come from large, stationary sources such as power and industrial plants. These units account for nearly 700 million metric tons annually.

MRCSP is one of seven Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships (RCSPs) established by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) to determine the best geologic and terrestrial storage approaches and apply technologies to safely and permanently store CO2 for each partnership’s specific region. Establishing the safe, permanent and environmentally sound storage of CO2 is a key element in moving toward the commercial deployment of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technology, which many experts view as a crucial option in helping meet the climate change challenge.

MRCSP’s Phase II small-scale geologic field tests used less than 60,000 metric tons of CO2 injection into selected deep saline formations to validate data from earlier Phase I, or characterization, research. Deep saline formation injection is a storage type that represents the most significant geologic storage potential for the United States. These latest results turn earlier information into practical, real-world knowledge for the most promising carbon storage technologies.

Phase I projects characterized large point sources of CO2 and potential geological and terrestrial storage options for the region, which comprises Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. In all, seven small-scale field validation tests were conducted in Phase II:

Three geologic injection tests, one in each of the three major geologic provinces of the region: the Michigan Basin, Appalachian Basin, and Cincinnati Arch, and hosted by major power companies in the region. Four terrestrial field tests in land types characteristic of the region’s diversity: croplands, reclaimed minelands, reclaimed marshlands, and forested wetlands.

Phase II terrestrial field tests showed that the MRCSP region can potentially store about 15 percent of the region’s annual CO2 emissions from large point sources, such as power plants. In particular, Phase II confirmed that no-till agriculture is a valuable carbon storage strategy with the added benefit of improved soil quality and agronomic productivity.

MRCSP Phase II field tests also determined that oil-and-gas fields have a high potential for enhanced oil and gas production associated with CO2 storage. In addition, using CO2 for enhanced coalbed methane recovery also shows potential for storing CO2. The MRCSP estimates that by utilizing CO2 for EOR, approximately 1.2 billion barrels of oil could be recovered from existing oil fields in their region helping to offset the cost of deploying carbon capture and storage technologies. 

Managed by FE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, the seven RCSPs, which includes the MRCSP, focus on CCS opportunities within their specific regions, while collectively building an effective and robust nationwide initiative. Through this process, each RCSP has developed a regional carbon management plan to identify the most suitable storage strategies and technologies, aid in regulatory development, and propose appropriate infrastructure for CCS commercialization within their respective regions.

The MRCSP project, led by Battelle, included a public-private collaboration with nearly 40 members from government, industry, state geological surveys, and universities across the nine member states.

Read the Phase II Report

Learn more about DOE's Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships Program