272823 Utilization Technologies for CO2 Derived From North Dakota Lignite

Tuesday, October 30, 2012: 4:35 PM
301 (Convention Center )
Jason D. Laumb, Energy & Environmental Research Center, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND

The Energy & Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota performed a study to identify the most promising technologies to utilize carbon dioxide (CO2) from North Dakota lignite-fired utilities. For the purpose of the study, the best technology was defined as one that requires the use of externally sourced CO2, can be implemented using existing technology, can produce a valuable and marketable product, and shows promise for application in a northern latitude environment having cold winters with short days. Enhanced fossil energy recovery methods are recognized as important but were not the focus of the study.

CO2 utilization technologies include direct use (e.g., enhanced oil recovery, carbonation, refrigeration), mineralization (e.g., metal carbonates, construction materials), use as a feedstock chemical with (e.g., fuels, plastics) or without chemical reduction, and as a feedstock for photosynthesis-based processes (e.g., greenhouse agriculture, algae production).

The technologies that show the most promise for use of externally sourced CO2 are those where sunlight is used as the primary energy resource. Of these, greenhouse agriculture was determined to be the existing technology having the highest probability of providing economic benefit to North Dakota power producers while at the same time utilizing externally sourced CO2. This conclusion was reached primarily because CO2-to-chemical-product processes are unlikely to require the use of externally sourced CO2, mineralization technologies are still relatively new, and many issues limit the potential for algae production in the northern Great Plains.

Greenhouses use externally sourced CO2 and could use waste heat from a power plant. Although the industry is unlikely to consume large amounts of generated CO2, it does appear to have favorable economic potential. High yields and high market prices for vegetables are positive economic considerations. A market survey determined that there is sufficient interest from large grocery store chains/food service companies in buying locally sourced vegetables. A detailed economic analysis of the opportunity is warranted to determine if the capital and operating expenses for such an enterprise are acceptable.

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