Nebraska Ethanol Plants Could Soon Store Carbon Dioxide Underground
A new industry is set to take off in Nebraska.
If it works out as backers hope, it would create jobs in the state and offer financial advantages for the state’s ethanol producers. In addition, the industry could have significant implications in the effort to combat climate change.
The groundwork was laid by State Sen. Mike Flood’s Legislative Bill 650, which all but one legislator voted to pass last month. Since then, multiple companies have announced plans to contract with ethanol producers in Nebraska to filter carbon dioxide and permanently store that element in the ground — either in the state or piped elsewhere.
Other production facilities, such as power and fertilizer plants, are also eligible to participate.
Here’s how it essentially works: Instead of allowing carbon dioxide to emit from a producer’s stacks, those stacks would be capped and route the carbon dioxide to a series of compressors. The carbon dioxide is then converted into a transportable form such as liquid and stored well below the surface — at least 2,600 feet below.
The specific storage plan varies.
Research and development organization Battelle and investment firm Catahoula Resources, for example, want to put the carbon dioxide underneath the ethanol plants or, at most, a few miles away.
According to Jon Cartlidge, commercial sales director at Battelle, the companies expect to spend anywhere between $20 million and $50 million per plant. The companies do not intend to seek public financing.
Cartlidge said the company is exploring locations in the state where the rock below the surface is porous and thus conducive to carbon storage.