Carbon Storage Atlas

Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium


Project Highlights


• The Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC) covers the smallest area of all the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships (RCSPs). MGSC focuses on a single geologic feature, the Illinois Basin, which was chosen for the central theme in order for the lead organizations to focus on specific geologic resources. MGSC is led by the Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky geological surveys, who combined have more than 150 years’ worth of expertise in the Illinois Basin, which has been brought to bear for the benefit of storage research in the central Midwest.
• The Illinois Basin – Decatur Project (IBDP) is the only large-scale saline storage bio-energy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) project in the world. IBDP injected 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) captured from ethanol production at the Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) facility in Decatur, Illinois. IBDP is a complete value chain project, including compression/dehydration facility, pipeline, injection wells, monitoring wells, and near-surface monitoring, verification, and accounting (MVA) systems in place.
• IBDP received a Class I Underground Injection Control (UIC) permit from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which was then reclassified as a U.S. EPA Class VI permit in the post-injection site care period. IBDP and the Illinois Industrial Sources Carbon Capture and Storage Project (ICCS) are the first two issued Class VI permits under the UIC Program. The permitting process presented considerable project challenges and resulted in significant learnings. For example, the period between receiving the final permit (which allows the project to drill an injection well) and receiving authorization to inject can be highly variable.
• IBDP conducted a 1 million metric ton saline storage injection project, which has directly led to a second commercial-scale project located in Decatur, Illinois. Collectively, the two projects in Decatur – IBDP and ICCS – have leveraged research from IBDP in order to refine monitoring programs, injection parameters, and successfully store more than 1.5 million metric tons of CO2 (as of October 2019).




One of the most surprising things about the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC) research is how closely their researchers’ questions mirrored or mapped to the types of questions from the public during stakeholder engagement. MGSC might be using different language, but the public and scientists are really asking the same questions. A good example of something MGSC hears from the public is: “How do you know the CO2 is staying where you put it?”

MGSC has devoted millions of project dollars to answering the questions around monitoring, verification, and accounting (MVA) to ensure that the carbon dioxide (CO2) being stored in the subsurface stays where MGSC puts it—and that it can be identified, fingerprinted using isotopic analyses, studied using geophysical technology, and monitored for microseismic activity; all of which are a researcher’s way of asking that same question.

  • Research questions mirror public questions:
  • How do you know the CO2 is staying where you put it?
  • What happens in the event of earthquakes?
    • Induced seismicity
    • Fracture and catastrophic release of stored CO2
  • Where does formation water go when CO2 is injected?
    • Increased pressure
  • Does CO2 injection fracture rocks during injection?
  • What are the long-term implications of the project?
  • Who is liable if something goes wrong with the project?
  • How do you know it is safe?

Advice for Storage Operators


Throughout the Illinois Basin – Decatur Project (IBDP), the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC) has learned a lot about the frequency at which sampling needs to occur, the types of sampling that have provided the best information, and the spatial necessity of where to install monitoring equipment.

It can save a lot of time and advance technology if new projects work with people and partners who have specific carbon capture and storage (CCS) experience and can leverage the work that has been done through the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships (RCSPs) and other CCS projects in the region. Advice to a new storage operator is to engage with experts in field monitoring and be aware of new and emerging technologies. Project developers and operators need to plan for the fact that you are creating a system that will be in place for 30 to 50 years. You need to have strategies for changing technologies; build redundancies in well infrastructure, such as sensors; and create plans for long-term well maintenance and monitoring – all while keeping in mind that the simplest solution is often the best solution. While researchers aim to contribute to the science and understanding of the subsurface, in a commercial situation, there needs to be reliable monitoring equipment and redundant systems in place that will allow the operation of an injection project for decades in a cost-effective manner.


Project Outreach


Click each subheading below for more information on specific types of outreach performed by the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC).

MGSC outreach effort began in 2003 with models, presentations, and curriculum materials. The program was further formalized with the development of the Sequestration Training and Education Program (STEP) in 2009. STEP’s goals were to facilitate knowledge sharing and capacity building gained through leadership and participation in regional carbon storage projects, and to provide local, national, and international education and training opportunities for those interested in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. All MGSC outreach, communication, knowledge sharing, and capacity building efforts have benefited from this centralized approach, which allows for greater impact, scope, and reach.

The Illinois Basin – Decatur Project (IBDP) received an Illinois U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Class I permit for injection of non-hazardous material at Decatur. The outreach done in conjunction with the permitting process was very formal, as was dictated by what is required by EPA in the permitting process. For example, the public comment period for an Underground Injection Control (UIC) permit is 30 days and a hearing can be requested at any time during the comment period. Delays can occur if a hearing is requested near the end of the comment period, because an additional 45 days public notification of a hearing is required. MGSC made a decision to request a public hearing at the time that the draft permit was issued for review by the public so that the amount of time that it would take to get through the public comment period was in line with project objectives. The public hearing is organized and led by the EPA, who invited MGSC to attend and participate in a pre-hearing information session for the public with posters and rock samples on display. MGSC representatives were present at the hearing to hear people's questions (in fact, there were not a lot of questions asked at that public hearing). After the final permit was issued, another process was initiated: that of drilling a well, writing a completion report, and obtaining authorization to inject. During that whole process, MGSC continued to do informal stakeholder engagement as part of the project, but this was not tied directly to the permitting process.

The Sequestration Training and Education Program (STEP) educational programs are built on the solid foundation of research being conducted through the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) and MGSC in the Midwestern region of the United States. Programs are based on providing hands-on learning experiences and information sharing on carbon capture and storage (CCS), through project-level experience gained through the MGSC Illinois Basin – Decatur Project (IBDP; Decatur, Illinois), Illinois Industrial CCS Project (Decatur, Illinois), and others. This unique research collaboration allows for the creation of knowledge sharing and capacity building programs that draw on CCS experts with pilot- and demonstration-scale project-specific experience to develop conferences, short courses, brown-bag lectures, and workshops to meet diverse training needs.

To help build informed and supportive constituencies, MGSC outreach activities have engaged local, regional, and international stakeholders through print and online materials, open houses, presentations, model demonstrations, school visits, curriculum development, teacher professional development, stakeholder meetings, invited briefings, public hearings, short courses, workshops, and conferences.

Project partners have also established working relationships with local media and use this outlet to enhance community engagement in the project. MGSC also regularly engages in domestic and international collaborative initiatives through technology transfer and capacity building to share project details and promote carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

As the science and technology of carbon capture and storage (CCS) evolves, the methods and strategies of outreach and engagement become more refined. The following list details the lessons learned during this project that can serve as a framework for future projects:

  • Dedicate resources to engagement (e.g., people, time, and budget).
  • Evaluate and reevaluate message, progress, needs, and resources on a continual basis.
  • Develop and use a communication plan.
  • Integrate risk assessment results into project management and communication strategy.
  • Catalog questions asked and create acceptable/approved answers for repeated questions.
  • Plan events for community and stakeholder benefit with respect to timing, nature, and impact.
  • Seek and engage in knowledge-sharing opportunities.

MGSC has contributed to previous U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)/National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) Outreach Best Practices Manuals (BPMs) and has put into practice the 11 principles that were outlined in the most recent edition of that document, namely: the need to integrate public outreach with project management, identify outreach goals with project management, establish a strong outreach team, identify key stakeholders, conduct and apply social site characterization, develop an outreach strategy and communication plan, develop key messages, develop outreach materials that are tailored to specific audiences, actively oversee and manage an outreach program throughout the life of a project, monitor the performance of outreach programs and make changes as needed, and to be flexible and refine the outreach program as warranted. MGSC has tested and found these principles to be very robust and would recommend that they serve as the foundation of any project-based stakeholder engagement process.


Project Commercialization


Click each subheading below for more information on the commercialization of carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Starting in 2003, the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC) has been working to define regional carbon capture and storage (CCS) potential, conducting small enhanced oil and enhanced coalbed methane projects, and conducting a large-scale deep saline CCS storage project. As a direct outcome of the Illinois Basin – Decatur Project (IBDP), a 1 million metric ton storage demonstration, the Illinois Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage Project (IL-ICCS) has expanded infrastructure and injection potential to industrial commercial-scale. Advancing CCS even further in the area, the Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise (CarbonSAFE) Macon County project seeks to conduct physical and social site characterization leading to the development of a 50 million metric ton storage complex with the potential to receive and store carbon dioxide (CO2) from multiple sources. Combined, these projects provide an excellent example of how leveraging research, resources, relationships, and experience can drive CCS toward commercialization.

The Illinois Basin – Decatur Project (IBDP) conducted extensive site characterization and infrastructure development, including building a compression/dehydration facility; conducting 3D and 4D seismic analysis; static and dynamic modelling; conducting long-term air, soil, groundwater, and deep subsurface monitoring, verification, and accounting (MVA); drilling of 3 deep wells and 17 shallow wells; permitting through state and federal Underground Injection Control (UIC) processes; and conducting stakeholder engagement. IBDP conducted four years of MVA baseline monitoring, injected carbon dioxide (CO2) for a period of three years, and is presently nearing the end of a six-year post-injection monitoring period. The results from IBDP inform both the Illinois Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage Project (IL-ICCS) and Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise (CarbonSAFE) projects.

IBDP efforts provided foundational support and data for the IL-ICCS project to expand on the geologic site understanding, allowing sound operational drilling and modelling decisions to be made at a cost savings. The IL-ICCS project built an additional compression/dehydration facility, pipeline, and educational facility to support the increased injection of 1 million metric tons per year. IL-ICCS has been able to deploy a reduced MVA program based on lessons learned from monitoring technologies used at IBDP.

  • The Illinois Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage Project (IL-ICCS) project is actively injecting at the Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) plant site in Decatur, Illinois. The project has injected more than 1.3 million metric tons to date and will continue to inject as long as storage is a priority.
  • Two Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise (CarbonSAFE) projects, Macon County (Illinois) and Wabash (Indiana), are assessing the feasibility of commercial-scale geologic storage at each site location.
  • Major carbon dioxide (CO2) sources are interested in being “early adopters” of industrial-scale CCS, and CarbonSAFE work is exploring a system of connected capture and storage sites throughout the region.

Looking to the next step in CCS deployment, the Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise (CarbonSAFE) Macon Country project is utilizing the extensive work being conducted in the Decatur area, and has moved approximately 18 miles southwest of the Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) site locations to a characterization well location within an oil field near Mt. Auburn, Illinois. CarbonSAFE Macon County is expanding on the technical and operational experience gained at Decatur to develop the next spoke in a regional hub or system for CCS. Another project, Wabash CarbonSAFE, is assessing the feasibility of geological storage at the site of an ammonia plant in development near Terre Haute, Indiana. CarbonSAFE feasibility studies offer a comprehensive approach to further understanding geologic suitability; permitting requirements; stakeholder needs; and, significantly, the development of a business case for CCS in the region.

Due to recent 45Q enhancements (2018 Bipartisan Budget Act), the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC) has seen increased interest from industrial sources in the region regarding CCS. Some companies are fairly new to the idea of CCS and are interested in learning which, if any, opportunities for geologic carbon dioxide (CO2) storage may exist near their properties. Others are proceeding with pre-front end engineering and design (FEED) and/or FEED studies (e.g., Prairie State Generating Station in Marissa, Illinois [DE-FE0031841]) on engineering/retrofitting capture equipment, or in some cases storage, and outlining the next steps required to move toward industrial-scale capture and storage.

Wabash Valley Resources LLC, partner and site host in the Wabash CarbonSAFE project, is proceeding with a plan to make CO2 recovery and storage a component of their ammonia production business plan, and Wabash Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise (CarbonSAFE) efforts are underway to drill a geologic characterization well at their site location near Terre Haute, Indiana.