More Lining Up for Carbon Capture

Ethanol Producer Magazine's editor previews the April issue, which includes an update on proposed ethanol plant CO2 pipelines, an educational review of antimicrobial use, and a profile of a North Dakota-based company with interesting ties to ethanol.
By Tom Bryan | March 22, 2022

At press time in early March, a huge announcement related to our cover piece—“Ethanol’s New Ground Game”—added some unexpected zip to our story on CO2 pipeline developments in ethanol country. Continental Resources, an oil exploration company known for its fracking prowess in North Dakota’s Bakken formation, made a $250 million commitment to Summit Carbon Solutions’ proposed pipeline intended to connect 31 ethanol plants across five states. As the story explains, the CO2 from these plants will be sent to central North Dakota for safe, permanent storage in deep geologic reservoirs—formations Continental knows well and can help assess.

The fact that Summit has investors in both biofuels and oil speaks to the historic opportunity of carbon capture and sequestration. Several ethanol plants participating in Summit’s pipeline are also investing in it, not just hoping CCS lowers their fuel’s carbon intensity—and boosts its value—but betting big on the profitability of the venture. Meanwhile, two other CO2 pipeline developers, Navigator CO2 and Wolf Carbon Solutions—each partnered with multi-plant ethanol producers—are also making progress, building partnerships and, like Summit, seeking approvals from landowners along their paths. The latter challenge, while a little vexing, can be overcome. 

An industry colleague recently sent me a graphic that illustrates where future carbon intensity reductions from ethanol plants are most likely to come. The top categories are carbon capture and increased efficiency (of all kinds). So, while our story on antimicrobials may seem miles removed from the development of CO2 pipelines, both articles reflect on the industry’s net-zero emissions quest. “Antimicrobials 101” serves as an essential brush up on why and how antibiotics and natural hop extracts, coupled with good CIP and monitoring practices, are used to stifle and fight off bacteria. Ultimately, bacterial prevention is about achieving the best possible fermentation yield, which, of course, is paramount to efficiency.

For Harvest Fuels, profiled by longtime industry journalist Susanne Retka Schill, it's not ethanol yield being pursued, but the food and feed products fermentation can render. “Business of Good Health” tells the story of a Walhalla, North Dakota, company that has made cattle feed supplements from ethanol coproducts—DDGS and CDS—but transitioned to products made by gently fermenting a mixture of wheat, flax, oats and barley to produce a direct-fed microbial for cattle and horses. Later, the company began making similar products for human consumption. The story is a departure from our usual coverage, but the company’s journey of diversification—and its connection to past and present ethanol plants—make it a good read. Enjoy.      

Author: Tom Bryan
BBI International