News Ticker


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,

EERC Welcomes Rob Klenner

The EERC is pleased to welcome back Rob Klenner to the EERC as a Principal Geoscientist. He will lead geological evaluations for CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR), CO2 storage, unconventional hydrocarbon recovery projects and geomodeling and simulation efforts. He holds a Master’s of Science and Bachelors of Science degrees in Geology from the University of North Dakota (UND).

It has been great working on projects that really impact the region. Conceptually testing technology is one thing; demonstrating its possibility is another. The state of North Dakota is fortunate to have an organization like the EERC exploring all the possibilities to keep North Dakota as an energy leader,” he added.

Prior to his return to the EERC, Rob was a Senior Geoscientist with Baker Hughes, a GE Company, where he was the reservoir analytics leader, creating subsurface machine learning solutions and services. Prior to that, he served as Lead Geoscientist with GE Global Research, where he was a key member of the team that initiated the reservoir program for their Oil and Gas Technology Center. Rob previously held the position of Geoscientist at the EERC, after having served as a Geophysicist Intern for Calpine Corporation at The Geysers, the world’s largest geothermal field.

Rob’s principal areas of interest and expertise include reservoir modeling, petrophysics, unconventional resources, petroleum geology, geothermal energy, machine learning, and commercialization of research and development. He has authored or coauthored publications in the fields of CO2 storage, EOR, geothermal energy, and machine learning solutions for upstream oil and gas.

It’s great to see the coordination of the greater organization and how everyone plays on the same team. This is a key strength of the EERC and has helped me fit in and feel welcomed,” Rob said.

Originally from Freeman, South Dakota, Rob met his wife, Anita, at UND. She works for Grand Forks Public Schools as a speech therapist. They have two children, a son who is 6 and a daughter who is 4. Both kids like to play soccer and basketball through the YMCA.

While Rob has long been an avid Vikings and UND hockey fan, the family also became OKC Thunder and OU Sooner fans while in Oklahoma.

We enjoy attending any family-friendly event in Grand Forks where we can get outside,” Rob said. “We also like to go to the park or walk/bike outside with our mini goldendoodle, Brix. When it’s raining, we enjoy staying inside baking and playing board games. We also enjoy camping and fishing out at Devil’s Lake.”

Rob said they look forward to visiting their families in Michigan, North Dakota, Minnesota, and South Dakota more frequently now that they live closer.

EERC Welcomes Rachael Perriello

EERC welcomes Rachael Perriello, Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) Specialist. In this position, Rachael supports the ongoing efforts of the EERC’s EHS programs, which encompass hazardous materials and waste management, radiation, air pollution control, wastewater, storm water, and hazardous waste shipping as well as occupational health, safety, and process safety management.

Rachael was drawn to the EHS field early on. “My father and grandfather worked in factories when I was growing up and my work in labs made me passionate about preventing harm to employees and the environment,” she said.

Rachael holds a Master’s of Public Health in Environmental and Occupational Health from the University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health in Houston and a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Rachael previously worked as a contract Hazardous Materials/EESOH-MIS Specialist at the Grand Forks Air Force Base and as a Safety Officer at the Minneapolis Veterans Home before that.

“I’m proud to be working at the EERC, which is bringing novel and practical solutions to our industry partners,” she added. “I’m excited for the challenge of working in a research environment that’s often at the cutting edge of technologies, which will require me to research and adapt as we ensure both regulatory compliance and continuous improvement in our EHS programs.”

Originally from Connecticut, Rachael isn’t intimidated by Grand Forks winters, she’s actually looking forward to them.

“Three years living in Texas has made me very heat-avoidant!” she laughs. “I love the snow and going for a walk on a brisk, cold day, then warming back up with a mug of hot tea.”

Grand Forks appealed to Rachael and her husband because they were seeking a “balance of outdoors activities, ‘big city’ things to do, and small-town affordability and lifestyle.”

Rachael’s husband, Jacob, installs fire protection systems in facilities across Minnesota and North Dakota. They have three cats and a dog, enjoy going on backcountry camping and canoeing trips, and are currently restoring their 115-year-old house together, where Rachael’s woodworking skills are coming in very handy.

“I am a voracious reader and try to read at least 30 books a year,” she said. “I love sampling artisan ice cream, beer, and spirits in all of the different cities I visit.”

Department of Defense to Trial EERC Water-Saving Technology

When most people think of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), they probably don’t think of its huge office buildings or barracks first—if they think of them at all. Chris Martin, the EERC’s Senior Research Engineer for Advanced Thermal Systems, has been thinking about DoD’s buildings a lot lately and about all the water used to cool them, and he has a plan to change that.

Martin developed a new technology to address building cooling water consumption and was recently selected by DoD for a $1.8M award over the next 3 years to demonstrate the technology. This project is focused on improving the trade-off between water consumption and cooling efficiency in DoD’s wet cooling towers, which use large amounts of water to dissipate heat from various processes including building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) loads; data center cooling; power generation; and other industrial purposes.

Moving the cooling tower to the demonstration site.
The proprietary cooling technology to be evaluated is designed to optimize water use so that the benefits of wet evaporative cooling can be applied during hot summer afternoons, but the needless evaporation of water can be curtailed during cooler times when conditions allow for efficient and sensible heat transfer to the air.

DoD is the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, spending billions of dollars each year to power its military installations around the world. DoD is estimated to have 4000+ conventional wet cooling towers at its facilities, and each tower is a significant consumer of water: for example, one desert-based cooling tower at Ft. Irwin (one of the test sites for this project) has been estimated to consume up to 2.6 million gallons of water annually and produce almost 1.5 million gallons of concentrated wastewater for disposal. Water is a mission-critical resource that is scarce in many parts of the country. As threats to water and other energy resources increase, DoD’s energy planning is key to ensuring successful missions in the future.

Cooling towers are a common component of on-base infrastructure, and the sheer number of installed units suggests significant opportunity for technology replication across DoD if this technology is determined to be a cost-effective strategy for reducing water consumption.

Fully assembled cooling tower
Martin’s project involves field-testing two demonstration units at sites that are characterized by “hot, dry” and “moderate but humid” summer weather. Both sites are in California but represent two extremes that will provide strategic results when evaluating future replication at other DoD facilities. Ft. Irwin National Training Center in the California desert is among the most water-stressed facilities in the country. Out of necessity, it will need to be an early adopter of water-conserving technology. The second location, DoD Center Monterey Bay in Seaside, California, represents a moderate coastal California climate but is a location where water quality and availability are still a concern since the local supply relies on fragile groundwater aquifers. Combined results from Fort Irwin and Seaside will be extrapolated to estimate performance across the country, including the hot and humid southeast United States, home to many DoD facilities that might face increased water stress in the future.

“The underlying hypothesis of this new cooling technology is that savings in water consumption over time can result in a lower life cycle cost than with conventional wet cooling, which has a lower initial investment cost,” said Martin. To validate this hypothesis, the EERC will look at water savings, cooling efficacy, and operational costs over a yearlong trial.

The new cooling technology stems from prior work at the EERC, including projects funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory and DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy (ARPA-E) to develop a large-scale dry cooling alternative for thermoelectric power plants, which are the single largest users of fresh water in the United States.

“Reducing the intensity of water use during cooling will save money in the form of reduced operating costs, preserve limited fresh water for other purposes, and also enhance the security and resiliency of DoD’s mission by buffering critical operations like indoor environmental control from the unpredictable future of water availability and cost,” said Martin.

EERC Welcomes Renee Kringlen

The EERC is pleased to introduce Renee Kringlen, Accounting Specialist and Travel Coordinator with the Financial Services Team. Renee is responsible for processing departmental payments and payroll as well as the planning and coordination of travel.

Renee previously worked as an Administrative Assistant in the Department of Geriatrics at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences and in Accounts Payable for the East Grand Forks Public Schools District Office. She holds an Associate of Applied Science in Business degree from the University of Minnesota, Crookston. 

“Getting back into Accounting and Travel seemed like a good fit,” Renee said. “The people here are so friendly—it has been a pleasure working at the EERC. I know I made the right choice and have not looked back.”

An East Grand Forks native, Renee enjoys spending time with her husband, family, and friends. With grown children, family weekends at the lake have become even more important. Renee’s daughter recently graduated from UND Nursing and works as an RN for Essentia in Fargo. Her son is an electrical lineman. Fun fact: Renee recently developed an interest in pickleball and plans to play this fall and winter.