Multi-state carbon pipeline adds Grand Forks, ND, ammonia plant to plans

The Midwest Carbon Express pipeline by Iowa-based Summit Carbon Solutions will gather carbon from ethanol plants in five states and send it to western North Dakota for underground storage. It is adding Northern Plains Nitrogen, a planned ammonia plant near Grand Forks, North Dakota, to the project.

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A group gathers Nov. 18 to learn about the Summit Carbon Solutions plan to store carbon dioxide in western North Dakota. Behind them is a rig capable of drilling 12,000 feet below ground where the carbon can be stored. Craig Bihrle / Special to The Forum
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AMES, Iowa — The Iowa company behind a $4.5 billion carbon capture and storage project has added another partner — a planned fertilizer plant at Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Summit Carbon Solutions announced Monday, Jan. 10, that Northern Plains Nitrogen, also would be part of the Midwest Carbon Express pipeline that would send carbon to western North Dakota to be stored underground.

Northern Plains Nitrogen joins 31 ethanol plants in five states that would be connected to the pipeline.


Northern Plains Nitrogen is developing an ammonia plant on 320 acres near Grand Forks to supply low carbon nitrogen-based fertilizer to farmers in the northern United States and Canada.
Northern Plains Nitrogen announced its plans for the plant back in 2013 but has still been seeking investors.


Larry Mackie, chief operating officer for the fertilizer project, said the carbon capture pipeline improves the prospects for the project.

He said the northern Plains has the highest priced fertilizer in the U.S. and it is even more expensive in Canada, with the border just 70 miles north of Grand Forks.

"The delay in financing is giving us a really great opportunity," Mackie said in an interview. He called the project "shovel ready" with permits in hand.

“NPN’s plant is being designed with the latest and most efficient production processes in the world,” Don Pottinger, CEO of NPN said in a news release. “By partnering with Summit Carbon Solutions to capture, transport and permanently store carbon dioxide, we will further reduce the carbon intensity of our products. This is a great story for agriculture, and for the state of North Dakota.”

The Summit Carbon Solutions project, with more than 2,000 miles of pipeline, will have the capacity to capture and permanently store 12 million tons of carbon dioxide every year.

“NPN and Summit Carbon Solutions share the same goal of lowering the carbon footprint of agriculture while supporting farmers,” said Jim Pirolli, chief commercial officer of Summit Carbon Solutions said in a news release. “Whether that’s done by delivering sustainable fertilizer products to enhance yields or by improving access for ethanol plants across the Midwest to premium low carbon fuel markets.”

The "blue" ammonia plant would capture 500,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide emissions, which Summit Carbon Solutions will transport and store permanently to a site west of Bismarck, North Dakota. "Blue ammonia" refers to ammonia made from nitrogen and “blue” hydrogen derived from natural gas feedstocks.

Mackie said the ammonia plant would connect the Midwest Carbon Express with a pipe that would run from Grand Forks to near Casselton, North Dakota, where one of the ethanol plants on the route, Tharaldson Ethanol, sits.


The main branch of the pipeline would run from northwest Iowa, to western North Dakota. Summit is in the process of obtaining right of way for the various spurs of the pipeline in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Last month, Summit said it received state and local permits to collect seismic data and begin drilling test wells, which is now underway.

Summit hopes to begin construction in 2023 and be operational in 2024.

The route of the Midwest Carbon Express

Reach Jeff Beach at or call 701-451-5651 (work) or 859-420-1177.
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