DOE funds CCUS project at ethanol plant, opens new CCUS FOA

By Erin Voegele | April 28, 2020

The U.S. Department of Energy on April 24 announced plans to award funding to a carbon capture and storage (CCUS) project under development at an Illinois ethanol plant. The agency is also soliciting applications for a new round of CCUS project funding.

The DOE announced five project selections from a previous CCUS funding opportunity announcement (FOA), titled Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise (CarbonSAFE): Site Characterization and CO2 Capture Assessment. The five projects will receive a combined $85 million to accelerate the wide-scale deployment of CCUS technologies.

One of the five projects selected is the Illinois Storage Corridor project. According to the DOE, the board of trustees of the University of Illinois will characterize and obtain UIC Class VI permits to construct two sites: a storage site near the One Earth Energy ethanol facility and a storage site at the Prairie State Generating Co. The sites will store a combined 6.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide captured annually. A carbon dioxide capture assessment will be performed for the One Earth Energy facility. A front-end engineering and design (FEED) study of carbon dioxide capture utilizing Mitsubishi Heavy Industry’s KM advanced carbon dioxide recovery process at the Prairie State Generating Co. is currently underway through an existing DOE cooperative agreement. The project seeks to accelerate commercial deployment of CCUS within the Illinois Storage Corridor, a region with proven geologic storage performance and numerous industrial carbon sources. The $25.41 million project was awarded $18.11 million in DOE funding.

Rex American Resources Corp., which owns the majority interest in the One Earth Energy facility, briefly discussed the CCUS project during an earnings call held on March 26. During that call, Zafar Rizvi, CEO of Rex, said the plant is working with the University of Illinois to explore a carbon sequestration project. Geological mapping, characterization and modeling have demonstrated the potential to store carbon dioxide captured at the plant in Mount Simon Sandstone, a local geological formation, Rizvi said.

The DOE also announced a new FOA under which it will make up to $46 million available for cost-shared research and development projects that capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from industrial sources. The FOA is titled Engineering-Scale Testing from Coal-and Natural-Gas-based Flue gas and Initial Engineering Design for Industrial Sources. 

One subtopic area of the FOA focuses specifically on carbon capture and compression from ethanol plants. According to the DOE, applicants under that subtopic will focus on carbon dioxide capture from ethanol plants in order to achieve negative missions from the atmosphere. In order to accomplish this, applications must include carbon dioxide capture and compression from both the onsite power/heat production and bioprocessing parts of the ethanol facility in their initial engineering design in quantities such that the overall capture system will be considered a negative emissions technology. The DOE said that sites that do not have additional carbon dioxide to be captured from power/heat production will be considered non-responsive to the FOA and will not be forwarded for merit review.

Applications for the new FOA are due June 5. Projects selected for funding are expected to be notified in August, with awards made in September.

Additional information is available on the DOE website