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NETL Project Partner Demonstrates Over 2.8 Million Tonnes of CO2 Capture From Ethanol Production and its Deep Geologic Storage in Mount Simon Sandstone
Class VI Carbon Dioxide Injection Well, courtesy of ADM.

Food processing company Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), with support from NETL, demonstrated an integrated system of processing carbon dioxide (CO2) and transporting it from an ethanol plant to the Mt. Simon Sandstone saline reservoir for permanent geologic storage. This is the largest demonstration of its kind in the United States and marks a crucial step forward in efforts to decarbonize the U.S. economy and power sector by 2050.

The system demonstrated by ADM at the company’s Agricultural Processing and Biofuels Plant, located in Decatur, Illinois, collected CO2 produced as a byproduct of processing corn into fuel-grade ethanol. ADM carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the first geologic storage project to operate with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Class VI injection well permit.  Under this Class VI permit, the cumulative amount of CO2 injection into the Mt. Simon Sandstone saline reservoir was over 2.8 million tonnes. 

“Widespread deployment of large-scale CCS technologies at sites like ADM’s ethanol plant could offer insight into reducing CO2 emissions at industrial operations throughout the country,” said Sai Gollakota, NETL federal project manager.

Saline reservoirs are layers of porous rock that are saturated with brine, a concentrated salt solution. Mt. Simon Sandstone could potentially store billions of tons of CO2 and is a clean sedimentary rock dominated by silicate minerals and lacking significant amounts of clay minerals, which typically clog pores and reduce porosity.

This composition results in highly favorable porosity and permeability features for CO2 storage. Supercritical CO2 fluid is injected into the saline reservoir at a depth of approximately 6,800 feet at a site adjacent to the ADM ethanol plant. Nearly 50 years of successful natural gas storage in the Mt. Simon Sandstone indicates that this saline reservoir and overlying seals should effectively contain sequestered CO2.

The ADM project, conducted in partnership with the Illinois State Geological Survey, Schlumberger Carbon Services and Richland Community College, will continue to monitor CO2 migration and protect groundwater sources in the area. The success of this project could also facilitate exploration of long-term CO2 utilization options in the Southern Illinois Basin.

“The work in Illinois is a prime example of collaboration between private industry, academia and government and shows what NETL can help achieve.” Gollakota said.  Even after the end of DOE agreement in September 2022, ADM has been continuing CCS operations in Decatur, and is actively working on commercializing the geologic storage technologies it has developed in this project. Working with other industry partners, ADM has plans for expanding the scale of CCS in Illinois by developing CO2 pipeline infrastructure. 

Advanced CCS technologies offer significant potential for reducing CO2 emissions, while minimizing the economic impacts of the solution.

NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory that drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By leveraging its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.