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Red Trail Energy, EERC researching carbon capture at the Richardton (ND) ethanol plant

Courtesy EERC

An ethanol producer with a plant at Richardton will be working with the Energy and Environmental Research Center on a carbon capture project.

The Industrial Commission has awarded the project $490,000. That's half the projected $980,000 cost.

"When you make ethanol, it comes with a "CI" value, a carbon-intensity value," said Dustin Willett, the chief operating officer of Red Trail Energy. "The lower the "CI" value, the better it is for the earth, as well as from a marketing standpoint."

The CO@ comes from the ethanol fermenters at the plant.

"If we can capture that, and possibly store that underground, it might be a great advantage for Red Trail Enery," Willett said.

The formation is called Broom Creek, approximately 6400 feet below the plant. The study will look at the feasibility of a commercial-grade carbon capture system.

"The study will assess where it is feasible, both economically and technically, of capturing the CO2, compressing it and injecting it into that deep formation," said EERC director of subsurface research and development Charles Gorecki. "And is it an adequate field to keep the CO2 in place."

Willett said if it works, it could reduce that CI value by roughly 20 to 30 points.

"That could, depending on the price of the carbon, could return anywhere from $5 million to $10 million a year," Willett said.

Red Trail Energy produces about 63 million gallons of ethanol each year.

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