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In Ohio, coal-fired electric utility plants, steel mills, and fertilizer plants generate the largest amounts of carbon dioxide. Showing where these sources are in relation to the best geologic storage reservoirs provides decision-makers the tools necessary for planning sequestration options, including pipelines. Such research will also help in deciding geologic sequestration options for future power plants, ethanol plants, and synthetic fuel plants (e.g., coal-to-liquids). Many scientists consider efficient and economic management of carbon-dioxide emissions as being essential if the nation and the world continue to depend on combustion of coal, oil, and natural gas for generation of electricity. In the near future, management of greenhouse-gas emissions through geologic sequestration may become a major consideration for Ohio’s fossil-fuel burning power plants and industries. Additional test wells, mapping and analyses, and pilot injection projects are necessary to complete the state’s critical assessment, but the research being performed today by the ODNR Division of Geological Survey will provide a solid foundation for effectively and efficiently addressing such issues.
The Division of Geological Survey has established itself as the leader in Ohio for greenhouse-gas geologic-sequestration research. The U.S. Department of Energy (U.S. DOE) recently awarded contracts to the seven regional partnerships of state agencies, universities, and private companies for a third phase of research to help determine the nation’s best approaches for capturing and permanently storing gases that can contribute to global climate change. Ohio is part of a partnership called the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP). The MRCSP is managed by Battelle Memorial Institute with Ohio leading the geologic team in the eight-state region, which includes Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
The seven regional partnerships are developing the framework needed to validate and deploy carbon sequestration technologies. The MRCSP is evaluating which sequestration approaches are best suited for the specific geologic and terrestrial options available across this important portion of the country. The Phase III projects will specifically target at least one large industrial site in each partnership to perform a large-scale CO2 injection pilot (injecting at least 250,000 tons of CO2 per year for at least four years).
In the process, we expect to test and demonstrate important aspects of CO2 storage technologies to key stakeholders including the public, environmental groups, government officials, policymakers, and industry. The key aspects to be tested include injection-well permitting, stakeholder acceptance, CO2 handling and compression, local transport, site assessment and development, injection and monitoring operations, site closure or transition to commercial operations, and institutional processes.
With this project, the Division of Geological Survey continues its leading role in Ohio greenhouse-gas geologic-sequestration research. In 2003, the Division, in collaboration with the state geological surveys of Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana and Kansas, completed a three-year, U.S. DOE-funded research project to begin to assess regional geology for the sequestration of greenhouse gasses in geologic formations and present that information to stakeholders via an interactive geographic information system (GIS). Called Midcontinent Interactive Digital Carbon Atlas and Relational DataBase (MIDCARB), this GIS formed the prototype for the National Carbon Atlas project now being employed to store and display information on facilities that generate large amounts of carbon dioxide and the geology of possible sequestration reservoirs (http://www.natcarb.org/).
In 2005, the MRCSP completed Phase I efforts to map and define the sequestration potential of the region, as well as important efforts to understand key regulatory issues and a first-ever systematic attempt to engage and inform stakeholders about this important class of technologies. The Phase I geologic report is available at the MRCSP website. The geologic maps, large CO2 point-source information and other layers are also available as an online interactive map here.
The Division of Geological Survey was an important member of Ohio’s FutureGen task force (FGTF) from 2004 thru early 2006. FutureGen was a $1 billion public/private-sector partnership to build a prototype power plant to: (1) demonstrate advanced coal-based technologies for generation of electricity and (2) produce hydrogen for fuel-cell technology to be used by the transportation and power-generation industries. FutureGen was also to demonstrate technologies for capture of carbon emissions and geologic carbon sequestration. Because of the geologic CO2-sequestration component of the facility, the Division was heavily involved in selecting suitable sites for Ohio’s two proposals for this nationwide search. While Ohio was not chosen as a finalist for this project, the work of the statewide FGTF proved very valuable in many regards. It brought many important state agencies together to start examining the issue of future energy projects and carbon sequestration. It also provided an opportunity for the Division to illustrate what is known and not known of the state’s deep geology.
As a result of the FGTF efforts the Ohio legislature appropriated funds to drill a deep test well. With currently available data, the geological survey can demonstrate the capacity to store CO2 in some deep geologic units, but data does not exist to effectively demonstrate the capacity of many units, especially in eastern Ohio. Ohio also has very little data on the rate (injectivity) at which these geologic units will accept CO2. Thus, the Division and partner Battelle have recently completed drilling and analysis of this state-funded test well in Tuscarawas County. A complete technical report will be issued soon.
The Division of Geological Survey also has provided geologic expertise to project leaders American Electric Power (AEP) and Battelle in an assessment of the deep saline formations beneath the Ohio-West Virginia border. Battelle and AEP are preparing for a limited-scale CO2 injection demonstration project at AEP’s Mountaineer Power Plant.
Recently, the Division of Geological Survey worked with Ohio River Clean Fuels, LLC, with financial assistance from the U.S DOE, to assess geologic CO2 sequestration options for a planned coal-to-liquids plant at Wellsville, Ohio. The Division led a team of researchers in testing the efficacy of CO2-assisted enhanced oil recovery technology in one of Ohio’s largest producing oilfields and examining deep saline formation options for the proposed plant. Carbon dioxide is one of the best proven mediums to push additional oil and gas reserves from reservoirs, yet this region has never had an economical source for use. It is conservatively estimated that at least 250 million barrels of additional oil could be produced from Ohio’s existing oil fields if this technology is widely deployed—that is five times Ohio’s remaining conventional reserves.
The Division is working closely with Ohio’s regulatory community to ensure all are aware of the current technology and state of knowledge. Ohio is well-prepared for future carbon injection regulations, though it will be 2–5 years before all technical issues and consistent federal regulations are ready for wide-scale deployment of geologic sequestration.
The MRCSP interactive GIS contains information on facilities that generate large amounts of carbon dioxide and the geology of possible sequestration reservoirs and provides the first detailed assessment of the region's capacity to store greenhouse gases in geologic formations. Access the MRCSP GIS here.