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As part of a multi-year research program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory, FirstEnergy Corp's (NYSE:FE) R.E. Burger Plant, located in Shadyside, Ohio, has been selected as a carbon sequestration test site. The project eventually will involve injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) thousands of feet into the earth in suitable rock formations such as saltwater reservoirs for controlled, permanent storage - or "sequestration."

This is one of about 25 Phase II projects that are being planned across the country by DOE to test the commercial viability of carbon sequestration as a CO2 storage method. In Ohio, DOE is working with the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP), a 30-member team led by Battelle, a global leader in science and technology.

CO2 is a common gas released during a coal-based plant's combustion process. There is growing interest in understanding the role human activity may play -- through the emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases -- in climate change, or what some call "global warming."

"For more than 20 years, FirstEnergy has been a national leader in efforts to develop new technologies to reduce emissions from coal-based power plants, and our involvement with MRCSP is another way we can take steps to protect the environment, while continuing to meet Ohio's need for reliable, affordable electricity," said Dan Steen, vice president, Environmental. Some of the research projects FirstEnergy has been involved with have led to the development of widely-used technologies that remove sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury from power plants.

In recent years, MRCSP has collected data about Ohio's geology and these studies indicate that the rock foundations around the Burger Plant include porous sandstone layers thousands of feet below the surface with very dense cap rock lying above -- conditions potentially well-suited for safely storing CO2 as the technology is developed.

Over the next four to six months, MRCSP will conduct additional studies at the Burger Plant to confirm its suitability for sequestration. Beginning in June, survey crews and "seismic" trucks will take measurements around the plant to develop below-surface images to determine the potential for carbon sequestration in the area. If the test results are favorable, MRCSP would begin the permitting process needed to drill a test well on Burger Plant property. The test well will reach a depth of between 4,000 to 7,000 feet -- considerably below drinking water supplies which typically are found at about 100 feet in this region.

The Burger Plant demonstration is not a commercial-sized project but a very small-scale test. Once the drilling is complete and all regulatory requirements met, a small amount of CO2 would be injected into the well. At some point, the research team may use CO2 produced as part of an innovative CO2 capture process being developed by New Hampshire-based Powerspan Corp. for use with its Electro-Catalytic Oxidation (ECO) multi-pollutant control technology that is being demonstrated at the Burger Plant.

As part of the MRCSP project, extensive monitoring will be conducted both during and after the injection phase. Once the CO2 injection is finished, the monitoring will continue until the demonstration is complete. At the end of the project, the MRCSP research team will review and evaluate the results of the demonstration, and the well will be plugged or capped in accordance with appropriate environmental rules.

Total MRCSP funding for its Phase II projects amounts to $18.1 million, of which $14.3 million is provided by DOE, and $3.8 million by non-federal partners, including $750,000 from the Ohio Coal Development Office within the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority.

For additional information about carbon sequestration, visit the MRCSP Web site at

FirstEnergy is a diversified energy company headquartered in Akron, Ohio. Its subsidiaries and affiliates are involved in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, as well as energy management and other energy-related services.

For more information, call 330/761-4365 or visit
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Publication:Industrial Environment
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2006

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