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UW Receives DOE Funding for Carbon Capture and Storage Projects

November 30, 2016

The University of Wyoming will receive nearly $2.4 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for research aimed at laying the groundwork for two commercial carbon capture and storage projects in Wyoming.

The department’s Office of Fossil Energy announced today (Wednesday) that UW is among 13 universities and other organizations selected to receive more than $44 million for cost-shared research and development. The funding is part of DOE’s Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise (CarbonSAFE) initiative, which helps mitigate carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

The UW projects are a pre-feasibility assessment for secure, commercial-scale CO2 capture and storage at the Rock Springs Uplift in southwest Wyoming; and study of CO2 capture, transportation and storage opportunities at Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s Dry Fork Power Station near Gillette.

Other recipients of CarbonSAFE funding include the University of Texas, the University of Utah, Columbia University, the University of Kansas and Louisiana State University.

“Carbon capture and storage will play a very important role as the world moves toward a lower-carbon economy,” says Lynn Orr, DOE’s undersecretary for science and energy. “The U.S. must continue a leadership role in the development and deployment of CO2 storage technologies as a key element of a diversified energy economy. The funding announced today through the CarbonSAFE initiative will help to address technical barriers to commercial-scale carbon storage as worldwide demand for these types of clean energy solutions continues to rise.”

Previous research by UW and other entities has identified the Rock Springs Uplift as an ideal location for carbon storage, with the potential to securely store more than 50 million metric tons of CO2 in the deep geological formation.

The new project will build upon that research by looking at the potential to capture and store CO2 from PacifiCorp’s nearby Jim Bridger Power Station, Wyoming’s largest emitter of anthropogenic CO2; and transportation of CO2 through the existing pipeline network or a new pipeline. Additionally, the project will look at possible additional storage reservoirs in the Rock Springs Uplift beyond those already identified.

“For the reasons of geology, state support and existing CO2 infrastructure, the Rock Springs Uplift is one of the most favorable locations in the United States to advance critically needed, commercial-scale carbon capture and storage technologies and projects,” says Kipp Coddington, director of UW’s Carbon Management Institute (CMI).

“We hope to set the stage for the development, financing, permitting and construction of a commercially feasible integrated carbon capture and storage project at this site,” says Fred McLaughlin, senior petrographer with CMI.

Meanwhile, the work in Campbell County is based on the prospect of post-combustion capture of CO2 from Dry Fork Station, where the Wyoming Integrated Test Center is being developed to test carbon capture technologies. In addition to assessing Dry Fork Station as a CO2 source, the new UW project will identify other potential CO2 sources and means of transport in the Powder River Basin, which supplies more coal than any other region of the United States. The work also will look at possible CO2 storage reservoirs in the immediate vicinity of Dry Fork Station.

“The Powder River Basin also stands as one of the most favorable locations in the country to advance commercial-scale carbon capture and storage,” says Scott Quillinan, Carbon Management Institute senior hydrogeologist. “We will perform a pre-feasibility assessment of the potential for siting a large-scale, integrated, commercially viable carbon capture and storage project near Dry Fork Station -- resulting in a short, ranked list of promising scenarios for later investigation.”

In addition to leading these two projects in Wyoming, UW will provide subsurface expertise for the Southern States Energy Board’s commercial-scale CO2 geologic storage complex adjacent to the Mississippi Power Co. Kemper County Energy Facility in Kemper County, Miss. UW will receive $518,000 in CarbonSAFE funding for this effort.

The UW projects and others selected by DOE are to develop integrated carbon capture and storage complexes that are constructed and permitted for operation around 2025. The pre-feasibility research would be followed by assessment of storage complex feasibility, site characterization, permitting and construction.

The Carbon Management Institute is one of the UW School of Energy Resources’ (SER) centers of excellence, focused on becoming a world-class center of techno-economic and policy carbon management solutions, including CO2 capture technologies, for the benefit of Wyoming's energy resources. SER Executive Director Mark Northam says the CarbonSAFE awards demonstrate UW’s rising stature in this field of study.

“As the nation’s No. 1 coal producer, Wyoming has a significant stake in finding ways to make traditional uses of coal cleaner and more efficient, along with exploring ways to create new markets for coal through carbon engineering,” Northam says. “Making coal a cleaner fuel source, and a valuable resource in new markets, would both preserve our traditional coal industry and create a new industrial base for Wyoming. We are committed to providing expertise and leadership to help achieve these objectives.”

For the complete DOE media release about CarbonSAFE awards, go to

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