Kevin Ellett
Geological Research at the IGS

Assessment of Hydrologic Consequences of CO2 Sequestration within the Illinois Basin

Status Start Date End Date Locations
completed Oct 1, 2009 Sep 30, 2011 All Counties
Director: Kevin Ellett
Other Researchers: Agnieszka Drobniak, John Rupp Mark Person, New Mexico Tech Michael Celia, Princeton University Brenda Bowen, Purdue University
Funding: U.S. Department of Energy - National Energy Technology Laboratory
Issue: A growing concern over the potential impact of climate change is driving policy makers in the U.S. and other Nations to consider approaches for significant reductions in atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions. Geologic Carbon Sequestration (GCS) has been identified as a promising technology for the near-term, large-scale mitigation of carbon dioxide emissions. Early studies have identified the Illinois Basin region as a candidate for GCS implementation owing to its potentially large subsurface reservoir storage capacity and the abundance of major point sources of CO2 emissions. New research is being conducted to assess the consequences to subsurface resources in the region of deploying numerous large-scale CO2 injection and storage projects.
Objective: This project is one component of a larger risk assessment for implementing industrial-scale CO2 subsurface storage throughout the Illinois Basin. The objective is to develop new data sets that are most critical for informing the basin-scale simulation and modeling effort. The IGS will provide region-specific data that a coordinated team of researchers from around the country will integrate into a basin-scale simulation of the effects of large-scale implementation of geological sequestration within numerous rock units in the deep subsurface.
Approach: This basin-wide study is a collaborative effort led by a project director at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and involves participants from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Princeton University, Purdue University and the Indiana Geological Survey. The study approach involves three major tasks designed to help evaluate the potential risks of CO2 leakage: (1) petrophysical characterization of the Eau Claire Formation, a principle sealing unit in the basin, as well as other lesser important units in the stratigraphic succession, (2) basin-wide compilation and analysis of borehole penetrations and, (3) basin-wide compilation and analysis of fault and fracture systems. Improved characterization of key attributes (e.g., permeability, porosity, capillary entry pressure) of the Eau Claire Formation is of critical importance as this formation forms the primary seal overlying the principle target reservoir for CO2 injection—the Cambrian Mount Simon Sandstone. Basin-wide compilation and analysis of known borehole penetrations and fault/fracture systems are critical for the comprehensive evaluation of potential CO2 leakage and migration pathways.
Products: A new data set of key petrophysical characteristics of the Eau Claire Formation along with other data representing other aquicludes and aquifers present in the deep subsurface of the basin will be developed by combining new laboratory analyses with a compilation of existing data and analyses from publically available sources—primarily from the State Geological Surveys of Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. A comprehensive database of borehole penetrations throughout the Illinois Basin will be assembled and data on fault/fracture systems will be compiled and processed into geo-referenced products for use in Geographic Information Systems. These products will be incorporated into a basin-scale simulation model for producing outputs such as time-dependent projections of CO2 plume distribution and deviatoric fluid pressure propagation.
Benefits: The products from this project and the associated basin-scale simulation model will be useful for policy makers, energy utilities and the public at-large in evaluating the potential impact and risk associated with the large-scale implementation of GCS in the Illinois Basin.

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