Ag Company Takes on Carbon Sequestration
ADM's Scott McDonald has some very deep wells that he's in charge of.
"This well is 7,000 feet," McDonald said. "It's equivalent to over 40 Statues of Liberty stacked on top of each other."
This hole is a monitoring well for a very large carbon sequestration project.
"We call it carbon capture and storage, because sequestration is just a big word that people don't understand," McDonald said. "But it's just storage and we're storing CO2 underneath the subsurface."
ADM's project is already pumping 1,100 tons of carbon dioxide into the ground each day. So far, that's added up to 350,000 tons. And it's not just about storing carbon dioxide.
"Carbon dioxide and oil are missable," McDonald said. "That means they mix, and so when you inject carbon dioxide into a formation, it changes the properties of oil, it expands it, and it also makes it less viscous. So the oil flows out of the formation much easier, so you can recover about an additional 20 percent of the oil in place. Potentially we have the capacity to recover an additional billion barrels of oil from southern Illinois."
The carbon storage technology could be huge for projects like FutureGen. That's why ADM joined with Richland Community College to form the national sequestration education center.
That's where Dr. Douglas Brauer helps teach about the science through systems like STELLA--the Sequestrational Technology Learning Array. That's a video game system targeted at school children.
But the center is part of a serious green energy center, including things like wind turbines, solar arrays, and even biomass furnaces.
"We bring the technologies here to give the students the greatest experience," Brauer said. "So if they decide to go on directly from Richland Community College, or they decide to go to a university, that they have a well-balanced education here."
In the end, ADM's programs and Richland end up serving each other.
"The students that we develop are going to be their workforce of tomorrow," Brauer said. "So they have a vested interest in the things that
we're doing, and creating opportunities. And together I think we've done something that's very powerful here."
In Macon County, Mike Brooks, ABC NewsChannel 20.