University of Illinois gets $897K grant to study effects of underground injection of carbon dioxide

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CHICAGO, IL, Nov. 18, 2009 -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded an $897,225 grant to the University of Illinois for a three-year research project to find out the environmental impact of injecting carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from a source such as a coal-fired electric generating power plant into Illinois' deep underground water reservoirs for long-term storage.

Researchers will use field work and modeling to determine the effects of CO2 sequestration on groundwater aquifers. The plan is to see whether CO2 injection could cause changes in reservoir pressure and possibly result in salt water migrating from deeper groundwater and contaminating fresh water near the surface.

Although underground injection of CO2 for such things as enhanced oil and gas recovery is a long-standing practice, CO2 injection specifically for geologic sequestration involves different technical issues and potentially larger volumes of CO2 than in the past.

EPA's Safe Drinking Water Act established the Underground Injection Control program to allow the safe injection of fluids into the subsurface in a manner that does not endanger current or future underground sources of drinking water. EPA recently proposed new rules to ensure there is a consistent and effective permit system under the SDWA for commercial-scale geologic sequestration.

EPA is working with the Department of Energy as it carries out its carbon sequestration research and development program and is also coordinating efforts to evaluate potential impacts on health, safety and the environment.

More information on EPA's CO2 geologic sequestration program is at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/uic/wells_sequestration.html and at http://www.epa.gov/region5/water/uic/carbon_sequestration.htm.

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