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MSU receives $1.6 million grant for "biomineralization"

The U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday announced that Montana State University will receive $1.6 million in federal grant money for carbon sequestration research.

James Markowsky, assistant secretary for Fossil Energy at the U.S. Department of Transportation, told reporters on a conference call that the grant will be used to develop technologies aimed at safely and economically storing carbon dioxide in geologic formations.

According to Dr. Lee Spangler, director of MSU-Bozeman's Energy Research Institute, researchers will use the grant to try to develop more efficient ways of plugging deep subsurface wells.

MSU-Bozeman Researchers Al Cunningham and Robin Gerlach are experimenting with "biomineralization," which involves using special microbes that might one day be used to plug the microscopic pore spaces that house oil and natural gas in deep geologic formations.

"Right now, the technology being used to plug abandoned wells is basically cement," Spangler said.

The new technology researched in Bozeman involves pumping water mixed with microbiological organisms into the pore space in rocks.

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