Midwest AgEnergy’s Blue Flint biorefinery in Underwood turns corn into ethanol, but that process’s byproduct, carbon dioxide, can be harmful to the environment. The energy company is working to mitigate those effects by testing out a carbon capture well.

“This project will allow the biogenic CO2 that we produce at Blue Flint ethanol to safely be stored below ground for long term storage,” said Midwest AgEnergy CEO Jeff Zueger.

A new initiative to store CO2 underground is projected to remove 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which the plant produces annually. Tuesday morning, the energy company announced the drilling of a test well to study the feasibility of storing carbon.

The well will retrieve core samples, which will then be analyzed to determine whether or not CO2 can safely be stored.

“If all goes well, we’ll be injecting CO2 in late 2022,” Zueger said.

And Zueger says he is confident it will go well. He says they’ve already invested more than a million dollars into feasibility studies. The initiative also has a green incentive of another kind — a tax credit, supported by Sen. John Hoeven.

“That 45Q tax credit, $50 a ton is really important. Whether it’s an ethanol plant or a coal-fired electric plant, it enables them to capture the CO2, put it downhole, and be able to afford to do it so they can do it for the long term, and we’re talking about capturing millions of tons of CO2,” Hoeven said. “So that’s how we’re really leading the nation in terms of innovative energy development.”

The project was pursued by a partnership with the North Dakota Industrial Commission and the Lignite Energy Council, which provided a $3.4 million grant in funding.