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 is assessing 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 well suited for safe, permanent CO2 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.

Cornfield with Red Trail Ethanol Production Facility

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 captured CO2. According to previous studies conducted by the Energy & Environmental Center (EERC), 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. Starting in late 2016, the Red Trail Energy case study began evaluating the potential for CCS integration with ethanol production at the Richardton location. EERC research successfully demonstrated preliminary technical and economic feasibility of CCS technology at the site. The current phase of research will thus include more in-depth assessments, such as detailed designs and plans for capturing, transporting and storing CO2 specifically for the Red Trail Energy ethanol facility and the site’s geology.

For more information, contact Kerryanne Leroux, Project Manager, EERC, (701) 777-5013
or Dustin Willet, Chief Operating Officer, Red Trail Energy,, (701) 974-3308.