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UW Receives Funding for Carbon Storage Feasibility Project

May 25, 2018

The University of Wyoming has received a $9.77 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy to proceed with a project to determine the feasibility of establishing a commercial-scale geological storage complex for carbon dioxide (CO2) in Wyoming.

UW, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC), and other partners aim to demonstrate that over 50 million metric tons of CO2 could be stored underground near Basin Electric’s 385-megawatt Dry Fork Station near Gillette.

The two-year, $12.25 million project will involve the drilling of a stratigraphic test well near Dry Fork Station to collect core material in order to evaluate the geological, geophysical, geochemical, geomechanical and hydrological characteristics present. The data will help determine the suitability of the underground geologic formations for commercial CO2 storage.

In addition to the $9.77 million federal grant, cost-sharing contributions from the partners will total about $2.47 million.

“This project will allow us to determine the feasibility of safely, permanently and economically storing CO2 in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, the largest coal-producing region in the nation,” says Scott Quillinan, project manager and senior hydrogeologist with UW’s Carbon Management Institute.

“Basin Electric is pleased to be a partner in Phase II of the Wyoming CarbonSAFE project,” says Matt Greek, Basin Electric senior vice president of research, development and technology. “Projects such as this will help determine viable alternatives for carbon storage that will help ensure the continued use of this nation’s abundant coal resource by creating and expanding options for managing our carbon footprint.”

“The EERC is very excited to be a part of this incredible team led by UW’s Carbon Management Institute, along with our longtime partners Basin Electric, Schlumberger and Computer Modelling Group,” says Charles Gorecki, director of subsurface research and development for EERC. “This work will continue to build off the work of the University of Wyoming and the learnings and collaborations developed through the Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership Program to advance carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies in the United States.”

The grant for the project comes from the Department of Energy’s Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise (CarbonSAFE) initiative, which seeks to help mitigate CO2 emissions from consumption of fossil fuels. The Dry Fork Station project and others selected by the agency aim to develop integrated carbon capture and storage complexes that are constructed and permitted for operation around 2025.

Others involved in the project are Advanced Resources International Inc., Schlumberger and Carbon GeoCycle Inc. Other UW participants in the project are the Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute, the College of Business and the College of Law.

The Powder River Basin produces about 40 percent of all coal consumed in the United States, and it also is home to existing CO2 pipelines for oil and gas operations, including fields suitable for use of CO2 for enhanced oil recovery.

“Finding ways to make traditional uses of coal cleaner and more efficient, along with exploring ways to create new markets for coal, are important objectives for Wyoming, the nation’s No. 1 coal producer,” says Mark Northam, executive director of UW’s School of Energy Resources. “We are committed to providing expertise and leadership to preserve our traditional coal industry and create a new industrial base for Wyoming.”

Research being conducted at UW’s new High Bay Research Facility regarding fluid flow, including CO2, through porous media will provide insights on storage efficiency and containment effectiveness of the underground saline formations considered for geologic storage of CO2 near Dry Fork Station.

The Carbon Management Institute is one of the UW School of Energy Resources’ Centers of Excellence, focused on becoming a world-class center of techno-economic and carbon management policy solutions, including CO2 capture technologies, for the benefit of Wyoming’s energy resources.

About Basin Electric Power Cooperative

Basin Electric Power Cooperative, headquartered in Bismarck, N.D., is a consumer-owned, regional cooperative that generates and transmits electricity to 141 member rural electric systems in nine states: Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. These member systems distribute electricity to about 3 million consumers.

About the Energy and Environmental Research Center

The Energy and Environmental Research Center is recognized as one of the world’s leading developers of cleaner, more efficient energy and environmental technologies to protect and clean air, water and soil.

Founded in 1951 as the Robertson Lignite Research Laboratory, a federal facility under the U.S. Bureau of Mines, the center today is part of the University of North Dakota.