The Gerald Gentleman power station near Sutherland will receive $2.7 million to plan a facility that will capture carbon dioxide instead of emitting it into the air.

The funds will come from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Nebraska Public Power District, which operates the coal burning power plant, announced the grant Thursday.

The funds are for “a design and cost estimate for a retrofitted, 300-megawatt equivalent, commercial scale CO2 capture facility” for unit No. 2 at the plant, NPPD spokesman Mark Becker said in the announcement.

ION Engineering of Boulder, Colo. will do the study.

An excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is thought to be the cause of climate change and overall global warming.

In all, the Department of Energy will give a total of $44 million to seven similar projects in the country for cost-shared research and development.

“It is important that we find technologies that can reduce CO2 emissions in a cost-effective manner,” NPPD Chief Operating Officer Tom Kent said.

NPPD will contribute $250,000 in labor and expenses to the study, plus $50,000 in cash, the announcement said.

The project is expected to begin in April and last about 18 months, with final results before the end of next year. If the design and cost look feasible, more funding will be needed for construction of the facility, Becker said.

Some development work on carbon capture has already been done, according to the announcement.

In late 2013, ION had developed a solvent that was identified as a potential low-cost solution for carbon capture, and received funds for preliminary planning of a new CO2 capture process.

NPPD partnered with ION on the initial phase of that project, along with the University of North Dakota Energy and Environmental Research Center and the University of Alabama Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Becker said.

The frequently renovated Gerald Gentleman station emits no visible exhaust from its big stacks even though it provides most of the electricity for Nebraska.