Kinder Morgan Assists in Unlocking the Secrets of Dark Matter

Posted on Monday, February 12, 2024

For over 14 years, Kinder Morgan has been part of a global effort to uncover the universe's secrets through our participation in the DarkSide Project. 

Led by Princeton University professor of physics Cristiano Galbiati and involving 400 scientists, the DarkSide Project has extracted exceptionally pure argon from a Kinder Morgan site in Colorado, in the hopes that it will provide valuable insights into dark matter - a substance that makes up 85% of the universe's matter.

At the heart of this exploration lies Kinder Morgan's Doe Canyon Deep unit in Southwest Colorado. While primarily focused on extracting CO2, Doe Canyon Deep yields low-radioactivity argon. This uniquely pure argon is an essential resource for the DarkSide Project.

In December 2023, a report was published by the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel that highlighted the DarkSide Project and the extraction of this argon from Doe Canyon Deep as top priorities to be pursued over the next decade by the U.S. DOE’s Office of Science and the U.S. National Science Foundation. 

This year, with support from a grant from the National Science Foundation, Princeton University, in conjunction with the University of Houston, will begin the installation and commissioning of an industrial-scale structure that houses a processing plant that was constructed in Italy by the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare.  For our part, construction was recently completed on a meter skid and pipeline to connect the argon extraction plant to Doe Canyon Deep. The plant is expected to be in service in late 2024.

Once in service, argon will be extracted from the CO2 stream at Doe Canyon Deep. Specially designed cylinders will then transport this argon to Italy, where it will undergo processing and then become an integral component of the DarkSide 20k particle detector, a tool used in dissecting the characteristics of dark matter.

Dark matter remains one of astronomy's greatest enigmas. The DarkSide 20k experiment, slated to start operating in 2025, aspires to detect and understand dark matter – its nature, behavior and significance in evolution.

“As the DarkSide Project progresses, it embodies the spirit of collaboration, innovation and discovery,” said Kinder Morgan's CO2 Director of Operations Engineering Casey Zweig. “Kinder Morgan's role in the DarkSide Project underscores the significance of public-private partnerships in advancing scientific frontiers. Plus, this kind of work is just cool!”

With Kinder Morgan's support, the DarkSide Project signals a new era of exploration. We aim to contribute to a new era of exploration, leveraging our resources and expertise to understand the universe's fundamental mysteries.
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