WAFERx            The Project            The Team            Relevant Publications            Presentations and Webinars           Other Resources


A photos o f birds flying over a green field at sunset with the words 'The Project' in a box at the top



 The words 'Project Origins'

Led by faculty at Montana State University and including collaborators from University of South Dakota and University of Wyoming, the WAFERx project began in 2017 when the team of scientists was awarded an NSF EPSCoR Track II grant.

 The National Science Foundation logo in black and white



The words 'Research Objective' 

Our research objective is to evaluate the implications of adopting Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) in the
Upper Missouri River Basin (UMRB) to mitigate climate change.


BECCS, while potentially lowering CO2 emissions, will require transformations in agriculture, land-use, and energy production systems, which could create trade-offs among food, water, energy, biodiversity, and rural development. We seek to understand the implications of these trade-offs for the local people, economy, culture, and natural resources.


 three photos: one of ducks flying over a pond with tall yellow grass in the background; one of a power plant with a blue sky in the background and yellow fields in the foreground; one of a close-up of a person's feet standing in a yellow field



The words 'Why BECCS?'

Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) is an energy production system with the potential to remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than it releases.


During BECCS, bioenergy crops remove CO2 from the atmosphere as they grow, and a portion of the CO2 released during energy production is captured and stored in geologic formations underground. By combining bioenergy and carbon capture and storage, BECCS achieves net negative COemissions (more CO2 is removed from the atmosphere than is released). Global models assert that net negative emissions will be essential to avoid global temperatures increasing by more than 2 degrees Celsius.


 diagram of BECCS



 The words 'Why the UMRB?'

The Upper Missouri River Basin (UMRB) is an imortant agricultural region that has potential for both bioenergy crop production and geologic carbon sequestration.

Bioenergy crops currently grown in the UMRB include corn, soybeans, canola, and sorghum. Other small grain and oilseed crops that can be used as bioenergy feedstock also have potential in the region.

Structural basins in the UMRB with potential for geologic carbon sequestration include the Bighorn Basin, Powder River Basin, Willison Basin, and Kennedy Basin. 


 Two maps showing the location of the Upper Missouri River Basin: one shows the entire USA with the UMRB highlighted (including large parts of Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota'; the other map is a close up of the UMRB showing different types of land-use



  The words 'Research Questions'

What will be the trade-offs between water, food, energy, biodiversity, and rural development if BECCS is widely adopted in the UMRB?


Is BECCS technically, socially, and economically feasible in the region?

How would BECCS affect food security?

How would BECCS affect cultural values?

What incentives are necessary for a BECCS economy?

What impact does BECCS have on wildlife and wildlife habitat? 


three photos--a stream through a meadow, a tractor in a field, and a close up of wheat


 Contact Us

Montana State University
P.O. Box 1234
Bozeman, MT 59717-1234
Paul Stoy
Outreach Coordinator:
Selena Gerace