The project team was led by the University of Wyoming’s Carbon Management Institute and sponsored by the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. In order to evaluate the area’s potential for CO2 storage geologic, hydrologic and geochemical data was collected from a 12,810-foot (3,900 metres) -deep stratigraphic test well. The Rock Springs Uplift, a geologic feature in southwestern Wyoming, was found to have the ideal geological characteristics for CO2 storage as well as the desired proximity to some of Wyoming’s largest sources of CO2 emissions. Digital imaging of a core sample was performed to learn about the formation’s grain size, mineralogy, facies distribution, and porosity.
The findings of the DOE study are particularly encouraging given the release by the Environmental Protection Agency last September of draft rules that effectively require new coal-fired plants to capture and store a portion of the CO2 they produce.
Besides its great potential for CO2 storage, the deep saline waters of the Rock Springs Uplift were found to contain high, commercially viable concentrations of lithium. For every 1 million tonnes of CO2 stored, approximately 250 tonnes of lithium carbonate, could be recovered from processed brine. Lithium is used in batteries and other electronics applications and therefore plays a key role in the transition to greener technologies. The recovered lithium could generate revenue to offset the cost of CO2 storage and help to reduce the need for lithium imports.
This research effort will provide information to the National Carbon Sequestration Database and Geographic Information System, a geographic information system-based tool developed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory, who will issue an opinion on CO2 capture and storage (CCS) potential across the US. These results could also form the basis of a future large-scale CCS project in Wyoming.