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Wyoming To See Large Demonstration Of Carbon Capture At ITC

The coal-fired Dry Fork Station with the Wyoming Integrated Test Center located right next to it.
Cooper McKim

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $51.7 million dollars to a California-based carbon capture company called Membrane Technology and Research (MTR) in order to set up a large-scale pilot demonstration in northeast Wyoming.

MTR is expected to set up at the partially-state funded research site Wyoming Integrated Test Center, located next to the Dry Fork Station, a coal-fired power plant in Gillette.

"Membrane Technology is a most promising version of carbon capture, and now it can move forward to the pilot project phase," Gov. Mark Gordon said. "This is also an example of technology that, if commercially successful, can be exported for carbon capture projects at home or abroad. The more carbon capture technologies that are available, the more likely it is that Wyoming coal will be an important part of our future electricity supply."

Jason Begger, managing director for the ITC, said the U.S. is at a transitional period right now in the energy industry where coal plants are being retired quickly, though less so recently. He said it's important to show carbon capture can work alongside coal.

"Finding a carbon solution, what MTR is offering, can save an asset that's well over a billion dollars," he said. "I think there's gonna be other coal plants that are newer, that are in the same boat saying, 'What can we do that makes sense?' to allow us to preserve our asset as long as we can.'"

Begger said the technology itself is still a generation or two away from commercial use, but that it's a big step to introduce a project of this size, both in terms of demonstrating Wyoming's operational capacity for projects of this size, and for bringing tens of millions of research dollars.

The demonstration will be 200 times larger than the winning NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE team, which used carbon dioxide to produce concrete.

Begger said he expects Membrane Technology and Research to break ground within the year and that the project will last three years.

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.
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