CCS for North Dakota Ethanol Production

Cornfield with Red Trail Ethanol Production Facility Red Trail Energy’s ethanol-manufacturing facility near Richardton, North Dakota, produces approximately 64 million gallons of ethanol annually.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) may be an economical option for reducing CO2 emissions to qualify for market credits by meeting the requirements of low-carbon fuel programs in other states. This research project assessed the technical and economic feasibility of integrating CCS with ethanol production processes to reduce net CO2 emissions. North Dakota has both significant ethanol production capacity and geology ideally suited for safe, permanent CO2 carbon storage.

Commercial technologies to capture and separate CO2 emissions from the fermentation process already exist. The study provides local ethanol producers with a detailed assessment of the commercial feasibility of incorporating capture, transport, and storage of the CO2 emissions within their production operations.

The project is looking at the technical and economic factors of a commercial CCS effort associated with Red Trail Energy’s ethanol-manufacturing facility near Richardton, North Dakota. The Broom Creek Formation, a thick sandstone rock layer located approximately 6400 feet below the Richardton facility, is being considered as the target injection zone for potential geologic storage of the CO2. According to previous studies conducted by the Energy & Environmental Research Center, this formation is expected to make an excellent storage target.

The EERC in Grand Forks, North Dakota, manages the project on behalf of the partners, which include Red Trail Energy, the North Dakota Industrial Commission Renewable Energy Program, Trimeric Corporation, Schlumberger Carbon Services, Computer Modelling Group, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The overall goal of this effort is to implement commercial CCS at an ethanol production facility to make a fuel that qualifies for low-carbon fuel programs. The 6-month feasibility study, undertaken from late 2016 to spring 2017, showed promising results for technical and economic viability. The current phase of research will further refine the regulatory, processing, and financial requirements for CCS implementation, improving the pathway toward commercial success.

For more information, contact Kerryanne Leroux, project manager, EERC, (701) 777-5013; Charles Gorecki, Director of Subsurface R&D, EERC,, (701) 777-5355;
or Gerald Bachmeier, Chief Executive Officer, Red Trail Energy,, (701) 974-3308.