Test Under Way to Address Climate Change


CHARLTON TOWNSHIP, Mich., Feb. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- A research team that includes partners from industry, academia and government has begun a test of injecting high pressure carbon dioxide into a deep saline geologic formation more that 3,000 feet underground, 11 miles east of the City of Gaylord.

The experiment, part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP) Phase II Project, is designed to provide better understanding of the potential for deep-underground storage (called geologic sequestration) as a means to prevent carbon dioxide from being emitted to the atmosphere, where it is believed to contribute to climate change.

"This sequestration field test by our Midwest partnership region serves as one of many ongoing nationwide tests to demonstrate the feasibility of permanently storing greenhouse gases," said Jim Slutz, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy. "The success of each of these tests moves the nation's carbon sequestration program another step closer to determining the processes best suited to address the overall issue of global warming."

MRCSP began injecting the carbon dioxide in early February and expects to complete the injection of 10,000 tons by the end of March, 2008. The carbon dioxide is being captured from a DTE Energy natural gas processing plant about eight miles from injection site. The pressurized, high-density carbon dioxide is transported to the injection well through an existing pipeline.

After injection is complete, scientists will conduct tests to determine how the carbon dioxide responds to being contained within the targeted geologic formations. The results of those tests are expected to be available in later in 2008.

The MRCSP, one of seven DOE-sponsored regional partnerships, is led by Battelle, a non-profit global leader in technology development and commercialization.

The MRCSP includes a 30-plus member team of state and federal officials, leading universities, state geological surveys, non-governmental organizations, and private companies in the eight-state region of Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Partners involved in the Michigan Basin test, in addition to Battelle and the site operator, Core Energy LLC, include DTE Energy, the Michigan Geological Repository for Research and Education at Western Michigan University, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Office of Geological Survey.

David Ball, Battelle's project manager for MRCSP, said this carbon dioxide sequestration field test draws on several advantages of this site, including the infrastructure for supplying and transporting carbon dioxide due to DTE Energy and Core Energy commercial operations there along with suitable geologic formations for storage of carbon dioxide in the area.

"Although the test is very small in scale, it holds great promise as an important step in building our knowledge and helping future generations to address global warming," Ball said.

Geoscientists at the Michigan Geological Repository for Research and Education at Western Michigan University have concluded from their research carried out for MRCSP that formations throughout the state may contain enough capacity to store hundreds of years' worth of current emission levels from large point sources of carbon dioxide in the state.

Ball points out that the ability to inject carbon dioxide into deep geological formations is only part of the solution. "For geologic sequestration to be successful, we will need to develop reliable, efficient and economical technologies to separate or, in other words, capture carbon dioxide from large fossil fuel fired processes like those at power plants, steel mills, cement plants and other industrial operations," he said. "Research is progressing in that area, but economical capture technology is not ready for commercial application today."

Ball added that addressing climate change will require multiple technologies in addition to geologic sequestration. He said some of those include increases in use of renewable energy, increased energy conservation and energy conversion efficiency, and increases in carbon sequestration through terrestrial methods, where carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere by plants and converted to carbon in the soil and root matter.


CONTACT: John Austerberry of DTE Energy, +1-313-235-8859; or T.R.
Massey, +1-614-424-5544, or Katy Delaney, +1-410-306-8638, both of Battelle

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