First-Ever Class VI Permits for Carbon Sequestration
This year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the first-ever Class VI permits for carbon sequestration in the United States, allowing the FutureGen Industrial Alliance to inject and store carbon dioxide in an underground facility in Morgan County, Illinois. Class VI refers to a type of permit specifically designed for long-term storage of carbon dioxide.
Researchers at PNNL led the preparation of the permit application for permanent geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide inside the saline aquifer within the Mt. Simon sandstone formation, more than 4,000 feet below the surface level. The storage site will also include a visitors center plus research and training facilities, and is expected to begin operation in 2017.
Submittal of the permit application culminated more than three years of research, starting with site selection and characterization and leading to the development of detailed numerical models of the site. Following the submittal, researchers addressed technical questions from the EPA for the next 12 months. The site is designed to accept 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year for 20 years – the equivalent of eliminating carbon emissions from more than 200,000 cars, according to the EPA.
The FutureGen Industrial Alliance is a non-profit membership organization created to benefit the public interest and the interests of science through research, development, and demonstration of near-zero emissions coal technology. The project in Illinois also entails retrofitting a nearby coal power plant, and will capture and store more than 90 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions.