Scientists will then monitor and model the injected carbon dioxide to determine the effectiveness of the storage reservoir. The gas will come from an ethanol plant in Illinois belonging to Archer Daniels Midland. During the course of the trial, around a million tons of carbon dioxide will enter the Mount Simon Sandstone Formation, which spreads throughout Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana and parts of Ohio.

Led by the Illinois State Geological Survey, the project will investigate how the heterogeneity of the rock formation can increase the effectiveness of storage and whether the carbon dioxide can be contained for millennia.

“We continue to make robust investments aimed at moving carbon sequestration technology from the laboratory to actual large-scale field demonstrations, and ultimately to the marketplace, with the help of our regional partners,” said Bud Albright, US Under Secretary of Energy.

In October, funding totalling $318 m was announced for three other large volume carbon sequestration projects in the US – the Plains Carbon Dioxide Redcution Partnership, Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership and the Southwest Regional Partnership for Carbon Sequestration.

The Department of Energy launched a 10-year carbon sequestration programme in 2003. The first phase, which ended in 2005, looked at the potential for carbon dioxide storage in deep oil, gas, coal and saline-bearing formations. The second phase saw small-scale geologic and terrestrial sequestration projects.

The funding for the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium is the fourth of seven awards in the programme’s third phase. The Department says that the current large-volume tests of the third phase are designed to validate that the capture, transportation, injection and long-term storage of more than 1 million tons (US) of carbon dioxide can be done safely, permanently and economically.