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John A. Rupp
Indiana Geological Survey

Last modified: Friday, December 21, 2007

New Department of Energy funding to aid climate change research and technology development

Dec. 21, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Two government-supported climate control initiatives announced this week provide opportunities for research breakthroughs and economic development in Indiana, according to John A. Rupp, assistant director for research with the Indiana Geological Survey, a partner in both projects.

The Indiana Geological Survey, a research institute of Indiana University, is providing geological information and technical expertise for both projects about the coal, saline aquifers, and oil and gas fields where carbon dioxide could be sequestered within the Illinois Basin region, which includes parts of Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.

Indiana Geological Survey

"For Indiana, these two projects provide tremendous opportunities for applied research in technology, science and policy," Rupp said. "They also are great opportunities for economic development relative to using our coal resource."

Indiana has an estimated 18 billion tons of recoverable coal reserves.

These two initiatives will provide opportunities to test and develop carbon capture and geological storage technologies on a large scale without the financial and scheduling restrictions that usually constrain research and development in the private sector.

The FutureGen Alliance, a consortium of 12 energy companies, announced the selection of Mattoon, Ill., as the site of the near-zero-emissions FutureGen power plant. The Indiana Geological Survey and the Indiana Office of Energy and Defense Development provided support for the Mattoon FutureGen proposal. Additionally, Governors Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Rod Blagojevich of Illinois entered into a Memorandum of Understanding pledging each other's support on the $1.8 billion project.

The FutureGen Alliance selected the Mattoon, Ill., site Tuesday over two competing sites in Texas and one in Illinois. The project includes an integrated gasification-combined cycle process in which coal will be converted to a syngas composed of carbon monoxide and hydrogen and burned to produce electricity. Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas produced in the process, would be injected underground for permanent storage.

The process results in greatly reduced emissions of sulfur oxides, nitrous oxides, and other coal combustion products potentially creating an expanded market for the coal mined in southwestern Indiana.

Also, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded $66.7 million for a large-scale carbon sequestration project to the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium, a partnership led by the Illinois State Geological Survey that includes the Indiana and Kentucky Geological Surveys, along with industry and environmental groups. The project will involve injecting 1 million tons of carbon dioxide over three years underground into the Mount Simon sandstone formation, a saline-water filled aquifer located more than mile below Archer Daniels Midland's headquarters at Decatur, Illinois. The carbon dioxide will be captured from the fermenters at the company's ethanol plant on site.

The award, also announced Tuesday, is part of Phase III of the Department of Energy's Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership program.

Phase I of the program, which began in 2003 and ended in 2005, included the study and characterization of resources for sequestering carbon by seven regional consortia. Phase II, which is still under way, includes multiple small-scale tests of carbon sequestration.

The Indiana Geological Survey is also a partner in a second consortium, the Midwestern Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership, based in Columbus, Ohio, and administered by Battelle Memorial Institute.

The Indiana Geological Survey has served the state since 1837 providing objective earth science information about the state's energy, water and mineral resources through directed research, service and education.