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U Utah Forms Carbon Dioxide Emissions Joint Venture with Headwaters

The University of Utah in Salt Lake City has entered a joint venture with Headwaters to launch a company that captures and stores carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions. Headwaters Clean Carbon Services will provide services for CO₂ geologic storage and CO₂ used for enhanced oil recovery and enhanced coal-bed methane recovery.

"The University of Utah has exceptional CO₂ sequestration know-how and technology developed by a team led by Brian McPherson, and [the new company] will leverage that know-how," said Jim Lepinski, president of the new venture. "Headwaters has a proven track record for successfully managing large projects and has strong relationships with coal-fired power plants in the United States. As the managing partner, Headwaters brings expertise in project management, engineering, procurement, construction, operations, and risk management."

McPherson is an associate professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering and manager of a carbon management group at the university.

"It is exciting to be on the forefront of this historic shift in [United States] policy to deal with carbon dioxide," said McPherson. "I believe there are projects immediately available to [Headwaters Clean Carbon Services] to further sequestration opportunities."

The momentum for creating a new industry surrounding carbon capture and storage has been building since passage of the stimulus bill. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act increases federal support for deployment of carbon capture and storage projects by 70 percent to more than $8 billion. Analysts at Emerging Energy Research (EER), an energy advisory firm, predict that global carbon capture and storage project investment could reach between $30 billion and $70 billion a year by 2030. The importance of carbon capture and storage was further underscored by a recent Environmental Protection Agency finding that greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide endanger the public health.

"Currently, we have identified six projects with potential funding of almost $400 million in which HCCS can participate. As these projects progress, Headwaters will reallocate resources and staffing to capitalize on this significant opportunity," said Lepinski. "Combined with University of Utah personnel and resources, we have a unique opportunity to forge a strong pioneering position in carbon dioxide sequestration."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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