Red Trail Energy, LLC, is planning to undertake carbon capturing and storage at its Richardton facility.
Dustin Willett, Red Trail chief operating officer, informed Stark County Commissioners about the new project at their Tuesday meeting.
"We're about to be filing for a permit to do a geological seismic survey out at the plant," he said. "It's in correlation with some of the future we have for Red Trail. We want to do carbon capture and storage at our facility."
The process captures waste carbon dioxide and prevents it from entering the atmosphere by directing it to an underground geological formation, such as an aquifer.
"It's going to go roughly 6,500 feet below Red Trail Energy," Willett said. "It should work out very well there for us."
The project is being done with University of North Dakota's Energy & Environmental Research Center.
Charles Gorecki, EERC director of subsurface research and development, further detailed the carbon capturing process.
"We would capture the CO2 from the fermentation process and inject it into the Blue Creek Formation, about 6,500 feet below the surface at Red Trail," he said.
The target is desirable for both its ferrous and permeable qualities.
"It's currently filled with salt water that would never be utilized for municipal purposes and it has a very nice shale caprock," Gorecki said. "It's an ideal storage target for something like CO2 or produced water."
Similar efforts are being done with Minnkota Power Cooperative's Project Tundra in Center, Gorecki said.
"It's also the target of a lot of water disposal currently in North Dakota from produced water from oil and gas operations," he said.
Gorecki showed commissioners an example of the new model geophone that will be used to conduct the seismic survey.
"We're going to be doing roughly eight square miles of geological testing," Willett said, "and that is to see if the space underneath Red Trail is going to be working for putting our CO2 down there."
The results from studies so far have been positive, Willett said.
"All of the computer modeling we have done says it is going to work great," he said.
Red Trail is filing for an underground injection control permit, class 6, with the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources.
The new classification is for injection wells.
Asked if carbon capturing was part of a commercial endeavor, Willett said those plans are not being made.
"It would be 100 percent pumping it down for storage," he said. "It is strictly for our facility."
Captured carbon dioxide can also be used for enhanced oil recovery.
"We are looking into having it so we can put it in a water well, or, if economically, it showed to be a better benefit to Red Trail...to use it for enhanced oil recovery," Willett said. "It's not as easy as flipping a switch, but we are putting a design in there so we can capture it that way and sell it to an oil field."
Commissioner Carla Arthaud asked what feedback Red Trail has received from neighbors.
"We haven't talked to a lot of them," Willett said. "We've talked to our board members and a couple of the landowners who are going to be affected by it, and they're 100 percent in favor of it."
Commissioners were provided with timelines and fact sheets for the project.
The same information is being given to City of Richardson officials.
Willett promised more public outreach meetings through the spring and summer.
In other business:
Kurt Froelich, North Dakota State University Stark/Billings County extension agent, introduced Holly Johnson to commissioners.
Johnson will be serving as the extension's family community wellness agent.
She has a degree in human development and family science.
"I grew up in a small farm outside of Galesberg, about an hour northwest of Fargo, and I just graduated from NDSU in the summer," she said.
Commissioners welcomed Johnson and congratulated her on the new position.