1. Russel, Kansas, United States

Stage: COMPLETED

Operating: 2003 - 2005

Capacity: 7 700 tonnes in total

Capture Facility: Ethanol production

Capture Type: High purity source

Transport Type: Truck

Storage Type: EOR

The first project to utilize a biogenic source for CO2 underground injection was located in Russel county, located in the central part of Kansas in the United States. The project was managed by the University of Kansas and supported through a contract awarded in 2000 by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), a fossil fuel research institution of the United States Department of Energy. The project had a duration of ten years including preparation and reporting. The final report is found on the website of the Kansas Geologic Survey.48

The project was run as a research project on Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), with the goal of increasing the amount of oil that can be recovered from old and depleted oil wells in Kansas. The CO2 was injected together with water to force more oil out of the field and into the production wells further away. CO2 was sourced from an ethanol plant in Russel, at that time operated by US Energy Partners. The CO2 was compressed and liquefied at the ethanol plant and transported by truck to the injection well at the oil field, 11 kilometres from the plant. Trucking was feasible because of the relatively small quantities, equivalent to 4 000 tonnes year (less than one truck load of 20 tonnes per day) and the short duration of the project.

Figure 16 Two of the oil producing wells in the Russel EOR research project. Photo: University of Kansas Center for Research

A total of 7 700 tonnes (metric) of CO2 was injected from December 2nd 2003 to June 21st 2005 at the Hall-Gurney Field into the Lansing-Kansas City formation, to a depth 870 meters. This resulted in an increase in the production of oil in adjacent wells by approximately 27 900 barrels.

The principal focus of the project was not to test storage of CO2 from a biotic source or for climate change mitigation, but to evaluate the possibilities to increase the production of oil from mature and almost depleted oil fields. Even though this was the main focus, the project management also carried out an environmental assessment of the carbon flows of the combined ethanol-byproduct-CO2-EOR energy system.49

Because of the relatively weak results from the EOR aspect of the project, the effort was considered a failed experiment and commercial operation was never implemented at the Russel field.

Though, as often is the case in research, the project delivered a truly ground breaking side result. The Russel project was the first small scale demonstration of BECCS, even though by serendipity, or in other words by enlightened accident. To our knowledge, the project delivered the very first permanent negative emission of CO2 with BECCS.

Figure 17 The Russel CO2 injection plant with injection tanks and tank battery. Photo: University of Kansas Center for Research

48 Kansas Geological Survey, 2010

49 Dubois et al., 2002