New Mexico Tech Secures $17.5 Million Grant For CO2 Storage

May 20, 2020

NMT research team will characterize geologic formation for CO2 capture in the Four Corners area

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SOCORRO, N.M. – New Mexico Tech recently was awarded a $17.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to study carbon storage in a geological complex in northwest New Mexico.

The grant is part of the Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise, or CarbonSAFE, initiative. The work will complete the detailed site characterization and CO2 capture assessment needed to obtain permitting for a planned integrated carbon capture and storage program at the San Juan Generating Station, a nearby 847 megawatt coal-fired electricity generation plant. The project funding includes an additional $4.5 million cost share

“The success of this application was largely dependent on past work and analyses performed at New Mexico Tech,” said Dr. Robert Balch, director of the Petroleum Recovery Research Center (PRRC) at New Mexico Tech. “This background allowed the project to start at Phase III, due to existing knowledge about the potential storage site.”

Balch is the project director and Ampomah is the project’s lead investigator. He said the project involves a New Mexico-centric team, including NMT, the Petroleum Recovery Research Center, the N.M. Bureau of Geology, and the two national labs in the state. He said the work builds on 17 years of previous carbon storage research performed by New Mexico Tech under numerous Department of Energy cooperative agreements.

The data and analyses produced under the agreement will be used to prepare, submit and attain a permit from the Environmental Protection Agency to potentially construct a CO2 injection well that would allow for geologic sequestration of 50 million metric tons of CO2 at a site near the power plant. The CarbonSAFE program’s goal is to accelerate commercial-scale use of carbon capture and storage technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere from industrial and power generation sources such as this power plant.

“It is exciting for me personally and for the team to successfully secure this funding,” said Dr. William Ampomah, research engineer and section head at the PRRC. “It’s a great news for the team to work and contribute to the sustainability of the San Juan Generating Station. This funding opportunity will assist researchers at New Mexico Tech to support staff and student research. The award was very competitive considering we were coming late in the game. It wouldn’t have been possible without the supporting letters we received from many local entities in the San Juan area and industrial partners such as Enchant Energy, Hilcorp Energy, and Robert L. Bayless, Producer LLC. As the lead Principal Investigator of the project, I would like to express sincere gratitude to everyone who supported us on this application.”

The grant was awarded under the Department of Energy Funding Opportunity Announcement, DE- FOA-0001999. The title of the grant application is "San Juan Basin CarbonSAFE Phase III: Ensuring Safe Subsurface Storage of CO2 in Saline Reservoirs."

Details of the five DOE agreements are available at


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