Carbon capture Project Bison moves forward

Carbon capture efforts continue to move forward in Southwest Wyoming, with Project Bison from Carbon Capture Inc. and Frontier Carbon Solutions steadily making progress.

The two companies hosted a town hall meeting for Sweetwater County at the end of October, where they explained their plans and gave updates on their progress.

"We're really excited to invest here," Matt Bright, the Director of External Affairs for Carbon Capture Inc., said at the meeting.

Bright explained that Carbon Capture Inc. was developed four years ago for the purpose of selling carbon removal credits. The company has already raised $43 million and is currently working on the first carbon removal module, which is about the size of a shipping container and has fans and filters to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Project Bison was developed for Wyoming with the goal of capturing and removing five million megatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year by 2030. The plan is to have operational modules in place by 2025.

"We are focused on Sweetwater County specifically because of the storage potential here," Bright explained.

Carbon storage is where Frontier Carbon Solutions, a partner in project Bison, comes into the picture. Alicia Summers, the Chief Development Officer for Frontier, explained that their goal is "building safe, permanent carbon storage for tomorrow's world."

Frontier was founded by oil and gas energy professionals, according to Summers, who are using their "roots" in energy to transition to carbon sequestration.

The process works by taking carbon dioxide from industrial facilities and direct air capture facilities; compressing it into a super-critical state, which turns it into a liquid similar to shaving cream, to make it easier to transport; taking it to the injection well site; and storing it close to 14,000 feet below the subsurface.

"CO2 injection has been happening for close to 40 years with enhanced oil recovery, and so this is not a new process," Summers said.

Still, Frontier's process will be using a Class VI injection well, the latest class that's been developed, and the company is working closely with the Department of Environmental Quality on the sequestration process.

Summers explained that lots of science goes into making sure the CO2 stays where it's put without contaminating anything. Studies are done to make sure sequestration sites don't have faults or leakage pathways. It is also put in locations underneath a "cap rock," like shale, that isn't porous and won't allow it to seep back to the surface. When the carbon is sequestered, it stays in its dense phase, so it cannot return to atmospheric conditions. The carbon dioxide eventually starts to replace saline water and bind with the formation until eventually it starts to mineralize and become a solid that stays there forever.

"We want to make sure this carbon stays there forever and ever," Summers said.

Summers also reiterated that Sweetwater County and the Green River Basin are a good site for the project because of the unique geography that lends itself to carbon storage, as well as the local expertise and labor force from the energy industry.

"I call it the gift that keeps on giving," she said of the area.

Not only is the area a great location for Project Bison, but Carbon Capture Inc. and Frontier Carbon Solutions hope Project Bison will be great for the area.

"We think this could be a real industry that affects Sweetwater County," Bright said. "We have a really robust community benefits plan. We are planning on spending $3 million right here in Sweetwater County over the next two years." 

The project will bring new money and new jobs to the economy, according to Bright. He also hopes it will eventually bring in other direct air capture companies, since he believes the industry is here to stay now. Someone will make money from it, he reasoned, so it might as well be Wyoming.

"Project Bison is more than just our project," Bright said. "It's really thinking about how we make the state a hub for direct air capture and carbon management." 

Local and state partners also spoke at the meeting, including Devin Brubaker, the director of the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport; Dr. Clifford Wittstruck, the VP for Academic and Student Affairs from Western Wyoming Community College; and Selena Gervais, a research scientist from the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources. They each explained how their organizations will partner with Project Bison and the benefits they hope the partnership can bring, from creating sustainable aviation fuel to developing new workforce training programs.

"I'm happy that this industry has chosen Wyoming," Brubaker said.


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