The FutureGen Alliance said this week that the local Illinois geology known as the Mt Simon formation is suitable for carbon dioxide storage at the site, after its drilling team reached a final depth of 4812 feet below the ground surface.
“In drilling the well, the geologists recorded a 460-foot thick Eau Claire formation that will form the caprock overlaying a 500-foot-thick portion of the Mt Simon sandstone that forms the potential CO2 storage reservoir,” the group said.
In the next few weeks, the data collected during the well phase – such as caprock and reservoir rock core samples – will undergo further testing to confirm the geology, but preliminarily the findings are “extremely positive”, Alliance chief executive officer Ken Humphreys said.
“We are very pleased that the team has successfully and safely completed drilling the characterization well,” he said.
“This is an important milestone in the FutureGen 2.0 program and was completed ahead of schedule. [The] data from the characterization well will not only benefit FutureGen 2.0, but will also add to the understanding of the Illinois geology.”
Now that drilling has been completed, crews will now remove the rig from the site to make room for a smaller service rig which is set to be installed next month to conduct hydrologic testing.
“During hydrologic testing, the Mt Simon sandstone will be tested by removing and then reinjecting the saline water from the sandstone while monitoring the formation’s response,” the Alliance said.
“Results from this type of testing will provide important parameters that will be used in designing the CO2 storage site.”
The well will be configured as a monitoring well for use in future phases.
The Alliance said it plans to restore to productive farm land, via topsoil replacement and equipment and berm removal, all but a 175-square-foot area around the well head. It will leave a service road connecting the pad site to a nearby road in place at the request of local landowners.
FutureGen 2.0 is set to be a first-of-its-kind near-zero emissions power plant; the design plan includes the upgrading the Meredosia Energy Center’s Unit 4 with oxy-combustion technology to capture approximately 90% of the plant’s carbon emissions.
Using safe and proven pipeline technology, the CO2 will then be transported and stored underground permanently at a nearby storage site.
FutureGen 2.0 has a total price tag of $US1.3 billion, $1 billion of which has been committed in federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It is a smaller version of the original FutureGen project planned for Mattoon, Illinois, which was shelved last year.