If all goes smoothly, engineers will begin pumping carbon dioxide, converted to a fluid, into a layer of sandstone 7,800 feet below the rolling countryside here and then into a layer of dolomite 400 feet below that.
The liquid will squeeze into tiny pores in the rock, displacing the salty water there, and assume a shape something like a squashed football, 30 to 40 feet high and hundreds of yards long.
American Electric Powers plan is to inject about 100,000 tons annually for two to five years, about 1.
5 percent of Mountaineers yearly emissions of carbon dioxide. Should Congress pass a law controlling carbon dioxide emissions and the new technology proves economically feasible, the company says, it could then move to capture as much as 90 percent of the gas.
Making the coal plant in West Virigina "clean" is costing well over $100 million. Even if the technology is built at a large scale, it's not clear how much the costs will come down. The only way this technology becomes widely used is if the climate bill makes carbon expensive. So far, that's not looking likely.
This will be a great experiment to watch unfold. The government wants to dump billions into clean coal, eventhough it has regularly been bashed as an expensive, hopeless, dream. Yet, it's still seen as the future of energy production in the world. The abundance of coal, combined with its ability to generate electricity on demand are too much to give up.