A new business opening at the Port of Morrow plans to take carbon dioxide gas from its neighbor and turn the emission into a beverage-grade liquid used to carbonate soft drinks.

Kodiak Carbonic LLC has finished construction on its $7 million Boardman facility next to Pacific Ethanol, and commercial production should begin within the next two weeks.

Buddy Collen, president of Kodiak Carbonic, said he and his partners developed the project last year with Air Liquide, a French-based multinational industrial gas company. Kodiak will buy 200 tons of raw CO2 gas per day from Pacific Ethanol, chill the gas into a liquid and sell the final product to Air Liquide, which owns several locations across the Northwest.

Liquid carbon dioxide can be used to make dry ice, carbonate soda and is a key agent in frozen foods. Collen said the CO2 at Kodiak will meet all food and drink quality standards, removing contaminants to 99.999 percent purity.

“Most likely, it will be used in most of the soda in the Northwest,” he said.

Collen, who is based in Amarillo, Texas, has been working 35 years in the CO2 industry and is the general manager for another company, Pacific Dry Ice, in Oregon, Washington and California.

Pacific Dry Ice is a customer of Air Liquide, which is how Collen came to know the $20 billion corporation. Together, they came up with the business plan for Kodiak and approached Pacific Ethanol as a potential source of CO2.

Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of ethanol production, and Collen said Kodiak will be helping Pacific Ethanol remove an otherwise harmful emission and put it to good use.

A pipeline connects the two facilities, sending gas from Pacific Ethanol to Kodiak where it is compressed, filtered and chilled at minus-10 degrees to make the liquid. Kodiak has two employees on site, and enough storage for 750 tons of CO2.

Collen said the port has been “an ally in getting things done,” and that he couldn’t be more impressed with the quality of contractors.

“It’s as good a contractor situation as I’ve seen in the U.S.,” he said.

Neil Koehler, president and CEO of Pacific Ethanol, said last year the project will help to diversify the company’s revenue, while Chip Stoicovy with Air Liquide said they are excited to support growth in the West Coast’s food and beverage market.

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Contact George Plaven at gplaven@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0825.

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