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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' 

The objective of the WAFERx research project is to evaluate the implications of widespread adoption of Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) in the Upper Missouri River Basin (UMRB).


BECCS, while potentially lowering CO2 emissions, will require transformations in agriculture, land-use, and energy production systems which could create trade-offs between water, food, energy, biodiversity, and rural development. It is important to study and understand these trade-offs before BECCS is considered as an alternate energy system in the region.


 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 generated during energy production is captured and stored in geologic formations underground. Together, these two processes achieve negative emissions (more CO2 is sequestered than released). Global models assert that negative emissions are essential to avoid global temperatures increasing by more than 2 degrees Celsius.

 An vector graphic showing how BECCS works--CO2 is sequestered from the atmosphere into bioenergy crops, and then CO2 is sequestered underground when energy is produced at the bioenergy plant; energy is produced in the form of electricity and biofuel and goes to homes and vehicles


 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