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UW’s Saturday University Focuses on Carbon Capture Research in Northern Wyoming

January 30, 2019
Kipp Coddington, Fred McLaughlin, Scott Quillinan and Jessica Western

The University of Wyoming’s carbon capture research in northern Wyoming is the topic of UW’s popular one-day program -- Saturday University -- Saturday, Feb. 23, in Sheridan.

“A Low-Carbon Future for Wyoming Fossil Fuels?” will be discussed during the program beginning at 9 a.m. in Sheridan College’s Whitney Academic Center. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. for coffee and doughnuts, followed by three lectures by four UW personnel. Jean Garrison, UW Office of Engagement and Outreach director, will moderate the discussions.

“During the fall and spring terms, Saturday University visits locations throughout Wyoming discussing today’s most captivating topics,” says Saturday University faculty Director Paul Flesher, a UW religious studies professor.

In its 12th year, Saturday University is a collaborative program that connects popular UW and Wyoming community college professors with lifelong learners. Offered nine times a year -- twice each in Jackson, Gillette and Sheridan, and once in Rock Springs, Pinedale and Cody -- Saturday University is sponsored by the university, Wyoming community colleges and local communities.

The Sheridan program is sponsored by UW’s School of Energy Resources (SER) and Office of Engagement and Outreach, and Sheridan College.

According to Saturday University organizers, Wyoming coal and natural gas face unrelenting climate policy pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. UW scientists are researching carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technology to discover ways to address the issue. UW leads research and development in carbon capture technology.

The Saturday University program presents UW research at Dry Fork Station near Gillette, which includes drilling a test well to study the area’s geology to determine if the storage project would be feasible. The presentations will focus on CCUS and geological, economic and social impacts of the research on the community, followed by a discussion.

Listed below are program topic descriptions and professors lecturing:

-- 9 a.m.: “Why Carbon Capture is Important for Wyoming’s Economic Future: A Climate Policy Overview,” Kipp Coddington, UW SER, director of energy policy and economics.

Coddington says coal and other fossil fuels face governmental and private-sector pressures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

“Pressures arise from international accords, such as the Paris Agreement, and from national sources, such as California’s continuing advancement of a suite of low-carbon policies,” Coddington says. “Wyoming’s leadership is responding to these challenges through implementation of state-level CCUS policies and projects.”

-- 10:15 a.m.: “The Science of Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS): Wyoming Case Studies and Wyoming CarbonSAFE,” Scott Quillinan, UW geologist and SER director of research; and Fred McLaughlin, UW manager and senior research scientist in the SER’s Center for Economic Geology Research.

For the past decade, UW’s SER has helped to advance the science of CCUS. One current research project focuses on carbon storage options north of Gillette at the Wyoming Integrated Test Center in support of ongoing carbon capture research efforts.

Quillinan and McLaughlin will discuss the goal to understanding the technical challenges of geologic storage of carbon using data from Wyoming CCUS case studies: how to determine storage capacity; how to assess the ramifications of long-term confinement; and what are the risks?

“The talk further introduces ‘Wyoming CarbonSAFE,’ a potential future project that focuses on the economic, safe and secure storage of 50 million tons of CO2 near Gillette,” they say.

-- 11:30 a.m.: “Carbon Capture and Communities: The Role of Social License,” Jessica Western, UW senior research scientist and director of the Collaboration Program for UW’s Ruckelshaus Institute/Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources.

“Social license refers to the acceptance of a company’s business practices and operating procedures by its employees, stakeholders and the public,” Western says. “In the context of CCUS, public acceptance and understanding of the technology are key to the project’s ultimate success.”

She will discuss the concept of “social license” and will invite attendees to participate in a facilitated discussion regarding carbon capture and UW’s current research on carbon sequestration in northern Wyoming. Topics will include potential impacts on local communities, from economics and energy to health and the environment.

For more information about UW’s Saturday University program in Sheridan, call Flesher at (307) 766-2616 or email For more information about Saturday University, visit the website at

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