KX News went to Red Trail Energy’s ethanol processing plant in Richardton, where a tube discharges 180,000 tons of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere every year…but soon, that will be changing.
“This is a project where North Dakota is once again leading the way in energy development,” said U.S. Sen. John Hoeven.
185,000 gallons of ethanol are produced each day at Red Trail Energy’s Richardton plant, and producing all that ethanol creates a lot of carbon dioxide. Now, company officials are aiming to reduce their carbon footprint with a new carbon capture process.
Red Trail Energy CEO Gerald Bachmeier said they will take the CO2, convert it into a liquid and pump it into the ground rather than the air.
He said getting the permit for that was no easy task.
“The class VI permit that you need for an injection well within the state is very stringent. Our class VI permit is actually more stringent than the EPA’s in some aspects, so from a safety perspective, that there will all be ruled out,” said Bachmeier.
Bachmeier said there’s plenty of room underground for that carbon. They’ll be injecting 180,000 tons of liquid CO2 each year into an area that can support 30 billion tons of the liquid.
If you’re worried about impacts to drinking water, Bachmeier said the area is sealed above and below by solid rock.
“We’re targeting the Brook Creek Field, which is around 6,300 feet below the surface. It has 1,100 foot of ceiling above it, it’s a saline formation, then you go above that and there’s also the Inyan Kara, so, so far, it looks very promising,” said Bachmeier.
Sen. Hoeven has worked with Red Trail Energy over the past few years creating a regulatory framework for carbon capture. He said the development will mean cheaper ethanol for farmers and of course, fewer emissions.
Stark County Commissioner Dean Franchuk agreed this is good news for Richardton and his county.
“It kind of puts our name on the map, you know it could draw some other corporations to this area if things like that are happening. I know there’s been some other progressive economic development companies that have started in that Richardton area that we’ve dealt with and I think word would get out and probably more people interested to this area,” said Franchuk.
The company added that the new carbon capture system will allow them to sell to states with low carbon fuel standards like California.
If all goes according to plan, Red Trail Energy hopes to have the new system operational by the fall of next year.