CHAMPAIGN, Ill., 2/22/23: With $8.9 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carbon Transport and Storage CarbonSAFE Program, the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), part of the Prairie Research Institute (PRI), is leading a two-year project to explore the feasibility of safely storing more than 50 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) over 30 years captured from the Heidelberg Materials cement plant in Mitchell, Indiana.
Heidelberg Material's new Mitchell plant uses state-of-the-art technology to increase capacity, minimize energy consumption, and allow for the potential use of alternative fuels and raw materials to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This project will characterize rock strata more than a mile below the land surface to determine if the site is suitable to store more than 95 percent of CO2 emissions captured from the cement plant.
Cement production is a carbon-intensive process, so these systems could play an important role in the company’s ambitious goal of decarbonizing by 2050.
“This is the first proposed carbon capture and storage project at a cement plant in the U.S. that I’m aware of,” said Nate Grigsby, the project principal investigator and ISGS geologist. “Heidelberg Materials is a large company, and this project has the potential to be the start of something big.”
The challenge for Grigsby and colleagues is to investigate the geological storage potential at the site. There is relatively little data concerning the deep geology of south-central Indiana, and this project provides an opportunity to gain a much better understanding of the strata and structure in the region. One of the first steps will be to drill a deep test well and conduct a seismic survey to obtain data to characterize the geology of the site and develop numerical models to predict how the site will perform for long-term CO2 storage.
The primary objective of the study is to determine if rock formations beneath the Mitchell facility are suitable for storing 2 million tons of CO2 a year, Grigsby said. The target reservoir rocks must be porous and permeable, have adequate storage capacity, and have an overlying seal to make sure the CO2 stays within the target formation.
“One of the most important things we do is numerical modeling to understand where to put injection wells and constrain the resulting CO2 and pressure plumes,” Grigsby said.
Another aspect of this carbon capture and storage project is to understand the concerns of nearby property owners by engaging with local communities on environmental justice topics related to the project. The team will ensure that stakeholders and disadvantaged communities can provide input and will benefit from the project as it develops.
PRI has decades of experience in site characterization for industrial CO2 storage and has assembled a multidisciplinary project team that includes experts from Heidelberg Materials, Projeo Corporation, Trimeric Corporation, the Indiana Geological and Water Survey, the University of Illinois Departments of Geology and Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, and the Gnarly Tree Sustainability Institute.
Media contact: Nate Grigsby, 217-300-7101, firstname.lastname@example.org