Grand Forks, ND—The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $12.5MM to the University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) for the Prairie Compass Direct Air Capture (DAC) Hub. In the first phase of the project, the team will perform an initial engineering study on the potential to economically scale DAC technology in North Dakota while also studying the number of direct U.S. jobs and other economic opportunities that Prairie Compass DAC Hub would create.
DAC is a technology solution that has been proven and deployed by Climeworks to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from ambient air. Climeworks is the first company to bring to market DAC technology in combination with permanent underground storage (DAC+S) of the CO2 captured. Climeworks is currently operating the world’s largest and only commercial DAC+S facility, “Orca,” in Iceland.
The Prairie Compass DAC Hub will combine Climeworks’ DAC technology with permitted geologic CO2 storage facilities in North Dakota to demonstrate commercial-scale DAC with storage consistent with DOE’s Carbon Negative Shot goal. The initial feasibility work will focus on Minnkota Power Cooperative’s permitted CO2 storage facility near Center, North Dakota, and the potential for Minnkota to provide support services to the project. If successful in its first phase, the Prairie Compass DAC Hub would be eligible to apply for additional DOE funds to support DAC+S deployment to capture and store 1 million metric tons of CO2 annually by 2030, roughly equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road each year.
“Direct air capture technologies have the potential to be a key piece of the puzzle in building a low-carbon economy in North Dakota while helping to create good-paying jobs in construction and operations for communities hosting DAC projects,” said Charles Gorecki, EERC CEO. “Our collaboration with Climeworks, as a global leader in direct air capture, continues the EERC’s legacy of being on the forefront of low-carbon technology innovation.”
If the Prairie Compass DAC Hub continues to the next phase, the project will deploy advanced, commercial-scale DAC infrastructure and operate it under the wide annual temperature range found in North Dakota to demonstrate CO2 removal at yet unprecedented scale. Community engagement and workforce development are core components of the project and will guide the creation of future DAC+S facilities, much like the way the Hub’s namesake wildflower was used to orient pioneers on the open prairie.
“We are excited and humbled to be working with the EERC to explore the great potential of the Prairie Compass DAC Hub. We are determined to not only bring an important carbon dioxide removal solution to North Dakota but also a long-term project that would create thousands of high-quality jobs,” said Daniel Nathan, Chief Project Development Officer at Climeworks. “We look forward to contributing our decade-long experience in DAC technology to this project and enabling permanent carbon removal in the northern Great Plains.”
For more information on DAC technologies, please visit https://undeerc.org/research/carbon-management/capture-technologies.html.
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