Heartland Greenway project would capture and store carbon from ethanol and fertilizer plants

A first-of-its-kind carbon capture and storage (CCS) project designed to transfer carbon emissions from ethanol and fertilizer plants to underground storage has been proposed in the Midwest.

Elizabeth Burns-Thompson is vice president of government and public affairs for Navigator CO2 Ventures, the creator of the Heartland Greenway Project. She tells Brownfield the project will serve as an avenue for processors to reach environmental benchmarks.

“A facility that institutes carbon capture and storage has the potential to reduce carbon intensity by 50%, so this type of technology is going to be what helps them make substantial progress toward meeting those benchmarks.”

Map of proposed Heartland Greenway Pipeline

The 1300-mile pipeline would run across the state of Iowa, parts of South Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska, ending with storage in central Illinois and connecting with about 20 ethanol producers and fertilizer processors along the way. The pipeline would serve as a transportation system so federal tax or market incentives for carbon sequestration would stay with the local processor.

“It will capture the CO2 gas, take as much of the water out of it as possible, compress it so it changes from a gas to a liquid and then move it through that network of pipeline infrastructure ultimately to a wellhead site where it is injected a mile to a mile and a half underground.”

The unique geology of the storage site will allow the liquified CO2 to mineralize overtime and become rock.

The project is getting pushback from some landowners as much of the pipeline would be built under farmland, putting some fields and pastures out of commission while the pipeline is constructed. Burns-Thompson, who grew up on her family’s farm in eastern Iowa, says they are committed to working cooperatively with farmers through the permitting process and are responsible for all losses farmers may experience for the life of the project.

She says farmers helped create the biofuels industry as another market for their products and through this project they can help ensure a bright future for the industry.

“This is a project that is going to help create that longevity for that industry that they’ve developed, and they get to be a part of it. We are really excited about what this means in keeping those rural processors afloat in many of our small communities across that footprint.”

The project has just started with a robust permitting process, but Burns-Thompson says they expect to break ground in 2024 if proper permitting is obtained.

This month they are hosting meetings across the project footprint to educate landowners on the process and address any concerns moving forward. Links to those meeting dates and locations are below:





South Dakota:

Interview with Elizabeth Burns-Thompson

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