News Ticker


Red Trail Energy Hosts Open House Event in Richardton

RICHARDTON, N.D. – Red Trail Energy, LLC (RTE) recently hosted an open house event at the American Legion in Richardton. Approximately 40 community members attended. Scientists and engineers from the University of North Dakota (UND) Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) joined RTE staff and provided information to attendees on a local carbon capture and storage project.
EERC Director of Subsurface R & D Charles Gorecki discusses the project with community members.
With the support of the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), RTE is investigating carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technology as a way to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions associated with ethanol production. Reducing emissions enables energy producers to sell ethanol to states that have low-carbon fuel programs, such as California. CCUS technology captures and permanently stores carbon dioxide emissions.
“We are very excited to continue working with the EERC to investigate CCUS as an economical option for meeting low-carbon fuel program markets in other states,” said Gerald Bachmeier, RTE Chief Executive Officer. “Our community has been supportive of the effort, and we appreciate their time to attend our open house.”

Photos from the event can be viewed here.

EERC Geophysicist Amanda Livers-Douglas explains CCUS.

Questions about the project can be directed to:

Dustin Willett, RTE Chief Operating Officer
(701) 974-3308,

Nikki Massmann, EERC Communications Director
(701) 777-5428,

EERC Welcomes Alexis Thompson

The EERC is pleased to welcome Alexis Thompson to the Financial Services Team as an Accountant. Alexis will provide accounting and business support for the EERC and accounting, processing, and reporting for the EERC Foundation.

“I’ve heard wonderful things from other UND employees about how great it is to work here,” said Alexis.

Alexis holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Minnesota – Crookston Prior to working at the EERC, Alexis worked at Dee Inc. as an Accountant/Corporate Controller. She said she was drawn to this position at the EERC because it gives her the chance to be a part of UND and the EERC “family” as well as work in a different area of accounting.

“I’ve spent the past 12.5 years working in corporate accounting in a manufacturing setting, this new position allows me to look at accounting in a whole new way which is very exciting to me. I like many things about my new job and am taking advantage of all the new opportunities to broaden my accounting knowledge,” said Alexis.

Originally from Greenbush, Minnesota Alexis has lived in Crookston since college with her husband, Tyler. Alexis enjoys crafting, embroidering, cross-stitching, gardening, and making homemade bread. For outdoor fun, she likes to four-wheel. Alexis also enjoys hockey and rooting for the Wild and UND Fighting Hawks.

EERC Welcomes Arelys Salazar

The EERC is pleased to welcome Arelys Salazar to the EERC team as a Reservoir Engineer where she will be developing geophysical computer models and dynamic simulations of the subsurface to determine the long-term fate of produced/injected fluids, such as hydrocarbons, CO2 storage, and brine.

Arelys holds a Master’s of Science degree in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Wyoming. She also earned a Specialist in Integrated Reservoir Management degree and a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Chemistry from the Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela. Arelys comes to the EERC with 18 years of industry and academic experience, having taught chemistry at the University of Carabobo, Venezuela and worked for the Venezuelan Institute of Petroleum Technology; PVDSA Intevep and for ConocoPhillips and Halliburton.

“The EERC is known for its innovation, and that drew me to this position,” said Arelys, who credits her work at PVDSA Intevep for fostering her passion for the oil and gas field. “It was an honor to work there, to innovate, to learn something new every day, and to learn from people with so many different backgrounds,” she said.

Her principal areas of interest and expertise includes reservoir characterization, production forecasting and optimization, enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technologies.

A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Arelys moved to the United States in 2007. She met her husband, an economist and quality manager, while they were both living in Houston. Arelys and her husband enjoy watching soccer and baseball. Arelys likes watching documentaries and loves a good superhero movie.

EERC Congratulates Kalk in New Role

GRAND FORKS – The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) congratulates Brian Kalk, Director of Energy Systems Development, Design, and Operations, who has been named Executive Director for NDSU’s Research and Technology Park.

“We greatly appreciate Brian’s time here at the EERC and his dedicated work advancing innovative solutions in energy,” said EERC CEO Tom Erickson. “While we are sad to see him go, we congratulate Brian on his new position. The Research and Technology Park will be in good hands with Brian as their leader, and we congratulate them as well.”

Kalk worked at the EERC for two years, and represented the organization on several state and national committees. Kalk was instrumental in establishing a number of internal and external initiatives, including a series of goals and objectives that were ultimately extremely influential in the development of Governor Burgum’s own goals for North Dakota and its vibrant energy and agricultural industries.

Kalk’s final day is April 30. The EERC will fill the position as soon as possible.

“Our team is committed to providing seamless service to our many valued clients through this transition,” said Erickson. “We’re looking forward to working with Brian in his new role.”

EERC Travels Down Under to Discuss Greenhouse Gas

Traveling over 9300 miles, across the Pacific, into the Southern Hemisphere, eight team members from the EERC journeyed to Melbourne, Australia, to participate in the Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies (GHGT) conference. In the span of 4 days, five presentations were given, ten posters were presented, and four people served as session chairs for seven different topics.

Since 1997, GHGT has been the principal worldwide conference on greenhouse gas mitigation, specifically on CO2 capture and storage. Led by the IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme (IEAGHG), the GHGT conference serves as a platform for its 30 member countries to share and collaborate on their CO2 research. GHGT comprises over 70 technical sessions, 300 oral presentations, and 400 technical posters; GHGT brings together approximately 1000 industry professionals, academics, researchers, technical vendors, and government representatives.

“If you want to know what’s going on in the world of CO2 research, this is the conference to attend,” said Principal Engineer for Emissions and Carbon Capture John Kay, who was one of the EERC’s presenters.

Kay presented on the EERC’s research regarding the development of a postcombustion CO2 capture system on an existing coal-fired electric generating power plant. Kay emphasized the importance of the EERC’s participation in global events like GHGT.

“Conferences like this help cement our global relationships. Seeing people from all over the world and having the opportunity to have face-to-face discussions about this kind of research is huge,” Kay said. “The big payoff comes as future opportunities and new working relationships. People we meet remember us 6 months down the road; we get a lot of additional work just from making those connections and talking with the public about what we do.”

Other technical presentations included the work related to the EERC’s Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership, such as storage capacities for CO2 in geologic saline formations, updated CO2 modeling and simulation, and CO2 monitoring for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Reservoir Engineer Chantsa Dalkhaa presented on the updated numerical modeling and simulation work as part of the Aquistore CO2 Storage Project. This project, located in Saskatchewan, Canada, is the world’s first commercial postcombustion carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) project from a coal-fired power-generating facility. Dalkhaa also served as a session chair for the conference.

The EERC’s Director of Subsurface R&D, Charles Gorecki, presented on the successes and lessons learned from the 15 years of the PCOR Partnership, one of many PCOR Partnership related presentations that have been presented at the GHGT conference series over the years. Beginning in 2003, the PCOR Partnership has grown to over 120 partners and has completed numerous field projects related to CCUS and its association with CO2 for EOR.

“The PCOR Partnership Program, led by the EERC, has been one of the leading global efforts developing the technologies to enable the widespread deployment of CCUS activities and has set the stage for additional research activities at the EERC and beyond,” said Gorecki. Gorecki also spoke of the various projects that have resulted from the PCOR Partnership, such as Project Tundra and North Dakota CarbonSAFE. “It has really been a privilege to work on the PCOR Partnership Program alongside an incredible group of scientists and engineers at the EERC and in our member companies.”

The GHGT conference is held every 2 years and typically rotates between North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

EERC Employees Give Back to Our Community

It’s been a busy year at the EERC. While our dedicated staff is always working to advance and improve America’s energy future, employees are also actively engaged in helping those in our community as well.

The EERC’s Social Cause Committee worked with the Grand Forks Northlands Rescue Mission Backpack Program and St. Joseph’s Social Care Free Summer Lunch Program to provide food for children in need in our community in 2018. The Backpack Program is committed to ending hunger in our community. During the school year, over 600 children each week receive a grocery bag filled with two breakfasts, two lunches, two snacks, and two beverages. Children who do not have enough to eat are able to have food throughout the weekend because of this program and those who invest in it. It costs approximately $1400 to cover a weekend of food for the children in the community. The Social Cause Committee organized fundraisers throughout the year to cover this. Through “penny wars,” raffle ticket sales, bake sales, and other fundraisers coordinated by the Social Cause Committee, the EERC raised $12,382 in 2018! In the summer months, EERC staff helped serve over 700 meals to children through the Free Summer Lunch Program, committing over 30 volunteer hours.

“I’m continually impressed by my coworkers’ willingness to volunteer and help,” said Ryan Klapperich, senior hydrogeologist and EERC Social Cause Committee Member. Klapperich organized the delivery of the food totes for the Backpack Program during the school year. “The key to making these deliveries work was acquiring commitments from multiple individuals to serve as drivers throughout the school year. I asked for help, and five individuals made the commitment to be a driver with very little additional encouragement on my part. On top of that, many other volunteers have stepped in to help the drivers with making the deliveries. Everyone’s commitment has allowed us to turn a big weekly job for Mission staff into an occasional task for individual EERC volunteers by sharing the effort. It’s all worked out better than I could have hoped.”

A highlight of the fundraisers was the “31 Days of Giving” raffle, held in March. Over $8000 worth of prizes were donated by EERC employees and area businesses. The raffle had daily drawings for prizes and raised over $7500 for the Backpack Program.

EERC Social Cause Committee Cochairs Janelle Ensrud and Michelle Olderbak led the initiatives throughout the year and coordinated volunteer opportunities for EERC staff. Of their colleagues, Ensrud and Olderbak said, “The generosity of the EERC family is truly humbling and never-ending. We are so happy to be part of such an amazing team.”

In addition to the Social Cause activities, the EERC also just wrapped up the 18th year of the “Adopt a Family” program over the holiday season, where employees shop for gifts on a family's wish list. This event helps provide school supplies, winter clothing, Christmas presents, and food and gas cards for families in need. This Grand Forks School District program was initiated to help the increasing number of families who fall through the cracks in the system. These are working parents who are unable to make ends meet or children who have been separated from their parents and are living with relatives, all in the greater Grand Forks area.

To read more about EERC social cause events, click here.

Innovative Pipeline Consortium Marks New Highlights

An industry-led consortium program called iPIPE, or intelligent Pipeline Integrity Program (, announces new milestones.

iPIPE is a novel program with a mission of assisting in the commercialization of emerging, game-changing technologies for gathering pipeline leak detection and gathering pipeline leak prevention. The program invests financial resources and physical assets in emerging technologies that may result in new tools in industry’s tool belt, and it attempts to help those technologies become commercially viable. iPIPE consortium members include pipeline operators Hess Corporation, Equinor, Oasis Midstream Partners, Goodnight Midstream, ONEOK, Andeavor, DCP Midstream, and Whiting Petroleum Corporation. The program is cofounded by the North Dakota Industrial Commission.

iPIPE Wins Williston API Industry Innovation Award

The Williston chapter of the American Petroleum Institute (API) held its annual awards dinner Friday, November 16. Several awards for outstanding industry performance and environmental stewardship were announced. These awards are peer-nominated awards, demonstrating the respect of industry peers for outstanding achievements. At this event, iPIPE was awarded an Industry Innovation Award for its unique collaborative industry approach to dramatically improving pipeline safety in the state of North Dakota.

Present at the event to accept on behalf of the consortium were representatives from Goodnight Midstream, Oasis Midstream Partners, Equinor, and ONEOK. Tone Macia, Oasis Midstream’s construction and engineering manager, touted the significance of the award, saying, “iPIPE was honored to be nominated by our industry peers for this award. We believe that this acknowledgment of innovation paves the way for more collaborative efforts that contribute positively to industry operations and public understanding of our business.”

iPIPE Holds Second Technology Selection Round

iPIPE held its second round of technology selections on October 30 and 31, 2018, in Williston, North Dakota. Of the nine proposals presented, four new technologies were selected to be pursued in 2019 through iPIPE. The technology selection process is modeled after ABC’s hit television program, “Shark Tank.”

“The coalition of businesses and partners that make up iPIPE was impressed with our latest round of submissions for new technologies and is proud to be pushing forward with these new ideas,” said Brent Lohnes, general manager of Hess in North Dakota. “It’s great to see the level of excitement for this industry-led initiative, and we hope to see even more practical applications that can help us reach our goals.”

The companies and their technologies selected for codevelopment activities in 2019 include the following:
Satelytics, Inc. – uses machine learning algorithms (artificial intelligence) to identify pipeline leaks using large sets of data from satellites, drones, and commercial aircraft. This will continue a second phase of work previously funding during 2018.
Insitu, Inc. – uses drones flying beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), multiple sensors, and advanced analytics to identify pipeline leaks over large areas of operation.
Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) – uses commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) cameras and machine learning algorithms to instantly identify hydrocarbon leaks.
Direct-C – uses film-embedded nanocomposites to directly measure hydrocarbon and saline leaks instantly.

Direct-C Chief Operating Officer David Scharff commented on the impact of iPIPE on companies offering emerging technologies, saying, “iPIPE is a truly unique program, offering companies like ours with promising technology the opportunity to complete development of the technology and simultaneously learn about specific industry needs and desires, making us even more competitive.”
Rendering of Direct-C pipeline technology.
During the next 3 years, iPIPE will invest cash, labor, hardware, and other resources in collaborative projects with each of the selected companies and conduct research to progress the technologies toward commercialization.

More than 40 emerging technologies for pipeline leak detection or pipeline leak prevention were evaluated for inclusion in the “Shark Tank”-style event. Twenty-one of these emerging technologies were invited to submit proposals to iPIPE, with nine proposals invited to present their emerging technologies to iPIPE’s industry panel of experts. “iPIPE continues to push the envelope, constantly seeking new technology that shows promise, but needs a bit of guidance to complete development and become commercial,” said iPIPE program manager Jay Almlie, Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC).

The goal of iPIPE is to develop and demonstrate cutting-edge technology that can prevent and/or detect gathering pipeline leaks in the state. iPIPE partners will do this through a process of testing and selecting emerging technologies, documenting demonstrations and results, and ultimately facilitating the adoption of the best, new technologies into North Dakota pipeline operations.

For more information or if you are interested in becoming a member, contact Jay Almlie,