Federal stimulus funds aid clean coal technology efforts
March 3, 2010
KALAMAZOO--A total of $350,000 in federal stimulus funds awarded to Western Michigan University is being used to continue WMU's efforts aimed at developing clean coal technology that could result in a major new economic development opportunity for Michigan.
Dr. David A. Barnes, professor of geosciences, is the principal investigator on two research projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. An award for nearly $44,000 comes from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative Inc., a nonprofit member-owned utility organization based in Cadillac, Mich. The second grant, for $306,000, comes from the DOE and the University of Illinois.
The funding will allow Barnes and his colleagues at WMU's Michigan Geosciences Repository for Research and Education to evaluate the geological carbon sequestration potential of different deep geological formations in Michigan. Carbon capture and sequestration--CCS-- is the capture and storage of greenhouse gas emissions deep below the ground in geologically appropriate areas. The technology has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep consumer energy prices low while creating new jobs in a high-tech industry.
"These studies will contribute information necessary to evaluate the potential for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from industrial point sources through carbon capture and sequestration and address the dual challenges of global climate change and energy security," Barnes says.
The Wolverine project puts WMU in partnership with the utility company, Dow Chemical, Hitachi Power Systems, Core Energy, and Burns and Roe Enterprises on an engineering design and cost estimate for the capture of 1,000 metric tons of CO2 per day from a proposed power plant in Rogers City, Mich.
The University of Illinois work is aimed at studying the subsurface in Michigan as part of a four-state evaluation of areas that are suitable of CO2 storage.
In addition to promoting national security on the energy front and combating global warming, sequestration has the potential for building a new industry in Michigan and other states that have the underlying geological formations that make them ideal for such projects.
Barnes says Michigan's subsurface geology has substantial geological storage potential in the microscopic void spaces of deeply buried rock formations, and a huge potential repository for the essentially inert, liquefied carbon dioxide. This resource could provide Michigan the ability to store all CO2 from large point sources for more than 200 years, although it is hoped that rapid development of cost-effective, renewable energy technologies will render CO2 storage unnecessary much sooner than that.
"Fossil energy has been fundamentally responsible for development in modern industrialized societies, but the associated greenhouse gas emissions are seriously threatening our environment," Barnes says. "Capture and deep geological storage of greenhouse gas emissions provide a critical bridging technology as we move, as aggressively as possible, to renewable energy technologies,"
WMU has been actively involved in Geological Carbon Sequestration research for nearly six years, and its efforts have been greatly enhanced by a recently awarded federal earmark sponsored by U.S. Rep. Fred Upton to accelerate the deployment of CCS in Michigan. Previous and subsequent grants from the U.S. Department of Energy are making it possible to evaluate the feasibility of CCS in Michigan to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary emission sites, such as electric power plants, ethanol production plants and chemical and refining operations.
Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org