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Construction Begins On First Industrial-Scale Carbon Capture Project

Ethanol plant

The efficacy of carbon capture and storage (CCS) just received a boast this week, as the US government announced the construction of an industrial-scale CCS scheme. The project received $141 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and a further $66.5 million from the private sector.

The new CCS plant, which will be built in Decatur Illinois, is the first industrial-scale, federally funded CCS project to move from the demonstration phase to the construction phase.

The project is particularly important because if successful, it could pave the way for future CCS projects. There has been a lot of talk about CCS in recent years, but little implementation of the much-anticipated new technology.

The whole idea behind CCS is the concept of capturing carbon emitted into the atmosphere and storing it in a place where it can remain for a long time. This could conceivably allow the continued combustion of coal or biofuels with virtually no carbon emissions (as any carbon would be sequestered and stored). And since coal consumption is increasing around the world, CCS shows promise in being able to reduce the carbon emissions associated with the combustion of coal.

In the case of the new Decatur plant, carbon will be sequestered from the nearby Archer Daniels Midland biofuels plant and stored 7000 feet underground in the saline Mount Simon Sandstone formation. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates the formation to have the capacity to store the 250 million tonnes of CO2 generated by industry in the Illinois Basin each year.

U.S. energy secretary  Steven Chu stated that “Charting a path toward clean coal is essential to achieving our goals of providing clean energy, creating American jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions… It will also help position the United States as a leader in the global clean energy race.”

To advance CCS as a viable technology, the Department of Energy has provided $41 million in funding for 16 projects across 13 states.

Do you think that CCS will help the U.S. chart a path toward clean coal? What role do you think CCS will play in our energy future?

Image CC licensed by TumblingRun: As U.S. ethanol plant

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