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Illinois to Store CO2 Beneath the Surface

The Illinois State Geographical Survey is set to begin pumping one million tonnes of CO2 into a layer of sandstone 7,000 feet beneath the Earth’s surface. It’s a little publicized climate change solution.

What’s the Latest Development?

One of the nation’s first serious attempts at carbon sequestration, a process by which CO2 is prevented from entering the atmosphere by being stored underground, is set to get underway in Decatur, Illinois. The State Geological Survey expects to pump one million tonnes of carbon into a store of sandstone 7,000 feet beneath the surface. “The Mt. Simon sandstone has a CO2 storage capacity of somewhere between 11 billion and 151 billion metric tonnes.” Layers of shale above the sandstone should trap the carbon permanently.

What’s the Big Idea?

Carbon sequestration is perhaps the least discussed method of slowing climate change. Is that because it too clearly resembles sweeping dirt under a rug? More likely, it is a question of costs. Illinois’ project is funded by the Department of Energy and designed as a preliminary test of carbon capture technology. The CO2 to be stored under Decatur comes from an ethanol production plant, a product that has slowly been denounced by environmentalists for inflating world food prices. 

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