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  • Writer's pictureJoel David Massey

Cleco’s Proposed $900 Million Carbon Capture Plan a High Price Tag Compared with New Direct Air Capture Program in Shreveport / Leesville

Process of Separating CO2 from Other Gases in Petroleum Coke Vapor More Expensive 


LENA, La—Cleco has spent about $12 million so far on the initial planning of the proposed $900 million Diamond Vault carbon capture facility at their Brame Energy Center in Lena, LA, just outside of Alexandria.  


This is a much higher price tag compared with a new direct air capture facility to be built in Shreveport, North America’s second facility of this type.  



Direct Air Capture Facility, Artist Rendering - Source: ProjectCypress.com


The decarbonization company Heirloom Carbon Technologies announced Monday, June 24, that it will be partnering with CapturePoint, a carbon management company, to extract CO2 directly from the air.  


Mike Morrill with CapturePoint said that they will pipe the CO2 from the Port of Caddo-Bossier to Leesville where it will be stored underground.


It is a public-private partnership, and Louisiana taxpayers are giving the company a $3 million grant.  The company will then be able to get up to $7.8 million in tax incentives over 10 years if payroll and employment targets are met, according to a press release by Louisiana Economic Development (LED).


The facility is part of Project Cypress which would use up to $550 million of U.S. Department of Energy funding.  CapturePoint will invest $475 million and create 81 permanent jobs with an annual salary of more than $56,000.


Direct Air Capture Facility, Artist Rendering - Source: ProjectCypress.com


Cleco’s Madison 3 power plant burns petroleum coke—a granular, carbon-rich byproduct of oil refining.  The plant gets petcoke shipped up the Mississippi and the Red River from South Louisiana via barge from plants that make gasoline, diesel fuel and other refined products.


Heirloom’s process of extracting CO2 directly from the air by filtering it through chemically enhanced limestone is simpler and less expensive than extracting CO2 from the petcoke vapor of the Cleco power plant.  


“The difficulty of capturing carbon dioxide from power plants is that the CO2 emissions are often contaminated with other byproducts of the fuel source,” Morrill said.  “To effectively store the CO2 almost all of contaminants have to be removed.”


The technology that Cleco would use is very new, and all the facets have yet to be worked out. Sulfuric acid and other caustic materials have to be separated, and those materials are too dangerous to be stored underground as the acid would threaten the water table by eating through the bedrock.


However, the sulfuric acid would be able to be sold to chemical companies, recouping some of the cost of separating it.  It is the world’s largest volume industrial chemical, and its main use is in the production of phosphate fertilizers.  It is also used to manufacture explosives, other acids, dyes, glue, wood preservatives and automobile batteries. 


According to Cleco’s website the two-year Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) study will retrofit the existing Madison 3 plant to reduce up to 95 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions.


If it happens Diamond Vault will create about 1,100 direct construction jobs over a three year period and 30 to 40 new permanent jobs.  During the construction the project would create about 2,900 jobs and inject $2.7 billion in increased sales and household earnings into the Louisiana economy and produce $50 million in increased state tax revenues.


Diamond vault was announced in April 2022 with support from leaders like then Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) and U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R).


There has been no word from Gov. Jeff Landry’s (R) administration on the project so far.


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