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Newly Patented, Seeking Commercial Partners – Filter-Blinding Reversal Technology

The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) Foundation has a newly patented technology (UnveilTM) to clean blinded filter bags to near-new performance, thus avoiding the very costly practice of replacing bags with significant useful life. 

Worldwide, thousands of baghouses are employed in hundreds of industries to control air emissions or to reclaim valuable substances from process gas. Each baghouse contains anywhere from 10 to 20,000 filter bags.

One major challenge with filter bags is “blinding”—the buildup of a tenacious amount of residual dust that is not removed by standard filter-cleaning methods. Filter blinding can cause costly increases in pressure drop, often limits the lifetime of filter bags inside the baghouse, and causes the operator to regularly replace entire sets of filter bags, adding significant operating costs.

But what if the existing installed bags could be renewed to like-new condition? The EERC’s Unveil technology achieves this cost-saving measure in a simple, low-cost application process.


Key Benefits
  • Significantly reduces bag replacement costs
  • Decreases system power consumption
  • Enhances performance of filtration system
  • Expands baghouse operational design envelope, leading to higher airflow, smaller footprint, and lower capital costs.
Watch an example of the Unveil treatment process returning a filter bag to original performance.


The EERC is looking for partners, with a proven commercial track record, interested in advancing this technology into the commercial marketplace. For more information on how to partner with the EERC on commercialization of Unveil, contact Jay Almlie, Senior Research Manager, at jalmlie@undeerc.org.


EERC’s Vision for North Dakota Energy Featured on 1100 AM The Flag

In a live radio broadcast from the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) Tuesday, newly appointed Director Tom Erickson discussed the EERC’s goal to be a visionary for energy technology innovation in the state of North Dakota with Radio Host, Scott Hennen, 1100 AM The Flag, Fargo, North Dakota.

The EERC is a key partner with the energy and oil and gas industries in North Dakota, leading the way in demonstration of viable, efficient, and environmentally friendly technologies that have worldwide impact. 

Associate Director for Research John Harju was also featured as a guest on Hennen’s radio show “Energy Matters,” along with Deputy Associate Director Mike Holmes, who both discussed key technical initiatives at the EERC, including carbon capture and sequestration, oil and gas exploration in the Bakken System, clean coal technologies, and enhanced oil recovery. 

Tom Erickson Named Director of UND’s Energy & Environmental Research Center

Tom Erickson has been named Director of the University of North Dakota’s Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC), UND Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo announced today. Erickson had been serving as Interim Director since July (Acting Director since May) and prior to that as Associate Director for Business, Operations, and Intellectual Property at the EERC.

DiLorenzo met with more than 30 individuals and groups as he considered the future leadership for the EERC.  “I thoroughly enjoyed my meetings, and I know that the innovative spirit and entrepreneurial drive at the EERC are strong. It is clear to me that good scientific inquiry is the basis for the work there while interest in energy and our environment is the driving passion,” said DiLorenzo.

Added DiLorenzo, “President (Robert) Kelley and I believe in Tom’s leadership abilities and in the team around him, and we believe that Tom and the team should continue to be given the opportunity to shine.”

"I am thrilled to accept this role. It is my honor to continue leading the outstanding staff at the EERC and working alongside the current leadership team and UND officials to map out a positive path forward," said Erickson.

Erickson and the EERC leadership team are committed to developing and enhancing strategic collaborative partnerships, protecting relevant intellectual property, and advancing EERC-developed technologies into the commercial marketplace.

In addition to Erickson, the EERC’s current leadership team consists of John Harju, Associate Director for Research; Deb Haley, Associate Director for Marketing, Outreach, and Administrative Resources; and Erin O’Leary, Interim Associate Director for Business and Operations, along with Deputy Associate Directors for Research Michael Holmes, Ed Steadman, and Chris Zygarlicke and Deputy Associate Director for Marketing, Outreach, and Administrative Resources Anne Fiala.

“I want to add how much we appreciate the efforts of the entire EERC staff as we have moved through this transition over the past several months,” said DiLorenzo.

“With a new financial plan in place, we are focused on strategically expanding our technical programs under development and strengthening our existing programs. With the strong and focused group of employees at the EERC, I am very confident of a bright future ahead,” said Erickson.  “I am also looking forward to working with Provost DiLorenzo on further collaborations with other key departments within the University family in order to strengthen relationships and build future research opportunities.”

Since 1983, the EERC has been transformed from a former federal R&D facility to a practical, entrepreneurial, market-driven organization with national and international clientele emphasizing working partnerships with industry, government, research, and academic institutions. During that time, the EERC has had nearly 1300 clients in 52 countries, over 960 of which have been from the private sector, including many Fortune 500 companies. The EERC's research portfolio totaled $202.5 million in fiscal year 2014.

The EERC, with its long tradition of fossil fuel-related R&D, has broadened its scope to include a wide array of strategic energy and environmental issues.  Erickson oversees efforts to address these issues through strategic initiatives focused on clean coal technologies; oil and gas industry technologies; carbon capture, utilization, and storage; energy and water sustainability; air toxics and fine particulate control; water management strategies; global climate change; waste utilization; hydrogen technologies; and contaminant cleanup.

Erickson began his career in 1986, when he was hired as a student at the UND Energy and Mineral Research Center. He was hired full-time as a Research Specialist in 1988. Over the years, he has held many different positions, including Research Engineer, Supervisor for Analytical Research, Research Manager, and Senior Research Manager. From 1999 to 2011, he served the EERC as an Associate Director for Research, where he focused on the development of advanced power and fuel systems from fossil and renewable energy sources.

Since 2011, Erickson has served as Associate Director for Business, Operations, and Intellectual Property, where he oversees activities related to safety, facilities, business functions, and protection and commercialization of intellectual property. The duties and responsibilities of this position are focused on providing facilities, engineering and construction support, accounting services, contracting services, business policies and practices, safe operations, and intellectual property protection and development to enable and enhance the cutting-edge research of the EERC.

Erickson earned both his B.S. and M.S degrees in Chemical Engineering from UND.

Legislative Committee Reviews Current Projects and Future Opportunities for EERC

The interim North Dakota Energy Development and Transmission Committee meeting was held at the EERC Thursday, October 16, 2014. During the committee meeting, EERC Director Tom Erickson presented information on the evolution and current status of the EERC, as well as activities that would be of great benefit to the state.

The committee also heard presentations from Associate Director for Research, John Harju, on the EERC’s Bakken Production Optimization Program, changing paradigms in carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery, and the Energy Polygeneration Industrial Complex (EPIC), a concept proposed by the EERC representing a new kind of energy facility, which will transform North Dakota’s abundant resources into clean, sustainable power and products for the world.

The interim Energy Development and Transmission Committee is assigned to study likely changes or future legislation on energy in the state. It works alongside two other committees for energy policy within the North Dakota Legislature: the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

Attending Committee members included (pictured left to right) Representative Peter F. Silbernagel, Senator Philip M. Murphy, Representative Todd Porter (Vice Chairman), Senator Rich Wardner (Chairman), Representative Chuck Damschen, Senator Connie Triplett, Representative Ben W. Hanson, Representative Mike Schatz, and Timothy J. Dawson (Staff Counsel).

For more information on how the EERC is working to impact North Dakota, contact Tom Erickson, EERC Director, at (701) 777-5130, or terickson@undeerc.org.

PCOR Partnership Works Together to Solve Critical Issues

The Energy & Environmental Research Center’s (EERC’s) Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnershiphas a long-standing tradition of developing key relationships with its partners and providing the highest-quality service and the most value for their investment. The 2014 PCOR Partnership Annual Membership Meeting, held in September, proved no different. More than 85 people representing 52 organizations, 14 states, the District of Columbia, and three Canadian provinces traveled to Denver, Colorado, for the 2-day event, which was abuzz with lively discussions regarding CO2 storage and utilization.


The PCOR Partnership addresses CO2 management on a regional level in the upper Great Plains of North America. Through collaborative partnerships with a broad range of stakeholders, the PCOR Partnership demonstrates the value of carbon utilization and storage as a viable solution to national energy and environmental concerns.

Throughout the event, attendees heard presentations regarding recent PCOR Partnership program accomplishments and other key carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) projects and shared storage strategies, technologies, and regulatory developments. A roundtable discussion on the role of CCS in a dynamic (and contentious) regulatory environment featured Rob Bioletti, Alberta Department of Energy; Jason Bohrer, Lignite Energy Council; Kevin Connors, North Dakota Industrial Commission; Ken From, Petroleum Technology Research Centre; and Mike Moore, North American Carbon Capture and Storage Association, with John Harju, Associate Director for Research at the EERC as the facilitator. For a complete list of presenters, view the 2014 PCOR Partnership Annual Membership Meeting agenda.


EERC Senior Research Manager Charles Gorecki (center) presented 2014 PCOR Partnership Pioneer Awards, which honor outstanding service to CCUS and the PCOR Partnership, to Dwight Peters (left), President, Schlumberger Carbon Services, and Jim Erdle (right), Vice President/USA and Latin America, Computer Modelling Group Ltd.

Special event sponsors for the 2014 PCOR Partnership Annual Membership Meeting included Ballantyne Oil LLC, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, the North American Coal Corporation, the North Dakota Petroleum Council, Schlumberger Carbon Services, Spectra Energy, and Xcel Energy.

For more information about the PCOR Partnership or to inquire about becoming a member, contact Charles Gorecki at (701) 777-5355 or cgorecki@undeerc.org.

EERC Foundation® Board Focused on Advancing Technology Development

The Energy &Environmental Research Center Foundation® (EERC Foundation®) Board meeting in Grand Forks on Thursday, October 9, centered around the board’s continued commitment to the protection and commercialization of EERC-developed technologies. Since 1992, the nonprofit corporation has provided a dedicated infrastructure to support commercialization activities and houses the rights to technologies developed by the EERC.

Through two decades of experience meeting a wide variety of unique client needs, the EERC Foundation has developed highly flexible and innovative approaches to a variety of business arrangements. Currently, the EERC Foundation technology portfolio contains dozens of EERC-developed products, with 40 active patents issued and 60 patents pending.
  

The EERC Foundation Board Members include:

Front (left to right): Alice Brekke, University of North Dakota; John Snustad (Secretary/Treasurer), U.S. Bank; Bob Harris (President), Harris Group, Inc.; Chris Greenberg (Vice President), Global Safety Network; and DeAnna Carlson Zink, UND Alumni Association and Foundation.

Back (left to right): Tom Erickson, EERC; Robert Kelley, University of North Dakota; David Straley, North American Coal Corporation; Mark Johnsrud, Nuverra Environmental Solutions; and Ron Ness, North Dakota Petroleum Council.

Board members also toured the EERC’s facilities during their meeting—an opportunity for them to hear about current and ongoing innovations under development at the EERC.

For more information about the EERC Foundation, contact Tom Erickson, EERC Interim Director, at (701) 777-5130 or terickson@undeerc.org.

New EERC Employee

Xiaofeng (Jennifer) Zhang is a Research Scientist – Geophysics at the EERC, where she develops geophysical models of the subsurface; performs reservoir characterization, petrophysical analyses, and reservoir simulations; and interfaces with a diverse team of scientists and engineers to apply cross-disciplinary approaches to address key technical challenges in oil and gas development and geologic CO2storage.

Zhang’s principal areas of interest and expertise include 2-D and 3-D surface and vertical seismic profile data processing, interpretation, and inversion; geophysical model development and reservoir characterization; well-logging interpretation and geologic modeling; and interpreting and resolving exploration and production issues. She is also interested in hydraulic fracturing design.

“I like the working environment of the EERC,” Zhang said. “People are open and helpful, projects are interesting, and managers are very supportive.”

Previously, Zhang worked as a Petroleum Engineer and as a Production Engineer for Yushulin Oil Company, PetroChina. She holds an M.S. degree in Geophysics from the University of Wyoming and a B.S. degree in Petroleum Engineering from Northeast Petroleum University (Daqing Petroleum Institute), China.

When not working, Zhang and her husband enjoy time spent with their son, who is 16 months old. 

Unlocking Unconventional Reservoirs Through Enhanced Characterization

“It’s an exciting time to be working in geology in North Dakota. I’m fortunate to work here—new and complex questions come up every day, and the EERC has the equipment and expertise to answer those questions,” said Steve Smith, EERC Research Manager and Manager of the EERC’s Applied Geology Laboratory (AGL).

The AGL’s work is focused on providing critical information for answering questions related to energy research in oil and gas production and CO2 utilization and storage, much of its work evaluating oil fields, oil production methods and materials, and saline aquifers with respect to their potential for enhanced oil production and CO2sequestration.

In July, Bakken Formation oil production hit 1.1 million barrels of oil a day. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the Bakken and Three Forks Formations have between 300 and 900 billion barrels (Bbbl) of oil, with 10 to 24 Bbbl technically recoverable using today’s technologies. While development of the Bakken oil and gas play is enhancing our economy and national energy security, it has challenges, but Smith said he finds the challenges to retrieving that oil both interesting and fulfilling.

Although the EERC continues to provide focused solutions in all energy areas, over the past few years, emphasis has increased on investigations related to oil and gas production and carbon capture, utilization, and storage. In that time, the Center has developed new, state-of-the-art analytical capabilities for determining key properties of rocks and materials used throughout the petroleum industry and has relied on the expertise and experience of our personnel working in existing laboratory facilities to provide additional detail.

The AGL is one of 12 laboratories at the EERC, serving various projects for the EERC as well as for outside clients. The lab is actively pursuing research into petrophysics, geochemistry, and geomechanics and is capable of characterizing the physical and chemical properties of rocks as they pertain to oil recovery and/or carbon storage. Much of the AGL’s work involves petrographic and routine core analysis looking at the porosity (holes between grains) of rock samples and their intrinsic permeability (the ability of liquid to flow through the holes in the rock), but that work serves as the foundation for the work that Smith considers to be the real expertise of the AGL: its ability to perform advanced evaluations, including the evaluation of naturally occurring versus induced fractures in the Bakken, strength determination of proppants, and two-phase relative permeability.

“Our core analyses give us a fundamental understanding of the reservoirs we are dealing with—the mineralogy of these rocks and how much pore space is in them (the pore throat size). Then we can determine what fluids occupy that pore space and how well those fluids are able to flow from one point to the next,” said Smith.

The AGL’s advanced applications can characterize formations to inform the well drilling, stimulation or hydraulic fracturing of the surrounding rock, and well completion (the running of tubing and lines to finish off the well) processes. The AGL has looked at hydraulic fracturing techniques and how the materials used there, such as proppants and the fluids used to transmit them, are performing. At the reservoir scale, the AGL is making links between pore throat sizes and capillary entry pressures, or pressure regimes, in the reservoir. Ultimately, the goal is to understand the practices that are currently employed in an effort to make improvements that ensure sustained movement of fluids throughout the reservoir.

“Two projects we are working on right now serve as great examples of the extremes we are dealing with,” said Smith. “One’s a conventional, traditional clastic reservoir in the early stages of CO2tertiary oil recovery where we’ve been focused on advanced reservoir characterization, and the other is a less conventional, tight reservoir—the Bakken—from which we’re developing innovative techniques to determine how best to optimize aspects of both surface and subsurface processes, ultimately yielding higher production values for both oil and associated gas resources. Both projects are equally challenging and require the full attention of our multidisciplinary staff. Of course, none of these projects would move forward without the involvement of our industry partners. It is through these partnerships that we grow our understanding of these complex reservoirs, both conventional and unconventional.

“Much of our work involves developing an understanding of how multiple fluids behave in a reservoir. Today, for example, we’re pushing CO2 and brine through a Bakken rock sample. That’s going to tell us if these rocks have an affinity for one fluid versus the other and help our partners to make informed decisions regarding strategic planning,” Smith added. “When we start to talk about how easily, or with how much difficulty, these fluids move through these rock samples, it’s all going to come down to a specific handful of variables that we are currently positioned to evaluate through a myriad of physical laboratory tests and validate using state-of-the-art software packages common to the petroleum industry.”

Another large EERC project is the Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership and its quest to safely store CO2. Smith said about 98% to 99% of the AGL’s work is focused on both oil and gas and on CO2 storage, but the two are linked.

“CO2 enhanced oil recovery is likely the bridge to large-scale carbon capture and storage,” said Smith.

Over the last 10 years, the EERC has been involved in multiple demonstration projects whereby CO2 is safely injected into the subsurface for the dual purpose of enhanced oil recovery leading to incidental CO2 storage. The AGL has played a role in each of these projects through the characterization of rock samples representing both storage sinks and seals.

Smith points out that the AGL works in tandem with the other labs at the EERC and relies on a multidisciplinary staff to answer the questions of its clients. Geologists and engineers work together to develop laboratory-based data sets that are then fed into static and dynamic reservoir simulations.


“The EERC is good at forming relationships and staying focused on the task at hand,” said Smith. “We are committed to this day in and day out. We are in tune with the research communities and, most importantly, our partners’ needs. We’ve developed excellent relations with the oil and gas community within and outside of the Williston Basin. While the Bakken is somewhat unique in its geology and the approach to producing oil from it, we can still gain incremental knowledge by listening to our partners from outside of the region and working together on new approaches to drilling, completion, and characterization activities. This is particularly true of CO2 injection for enhanced oil recovery. This practice has been ongoing for over 4 decades and has the potential to be one mechanism to add to the world-class success the Bakken is currently seeing.”

“Our goal is to produce data sets that will enhance the oil production from the Williston Basin. Enhancing production by just 1% could result in recovering up to 9 Bbbl of additional oil,” said Smith. “The Bakken Formation has been the toughest for us so far, but tight unconventional oil plays have been identified worldwide. The information we get from the Bakken is really going to aid in the development of these newly emerging systems. So while we’re concerned with the Bakken on a local level, this work has global implications.”

For more information on the AGL or other EERC laboratories, see or contact Steve Smith, EERC Research Manager, at (701) 777-5108 or Beth Kurz, Senior Research Manager, at (701) 777-5050.

Bakken Map Demand Remains High – For Sale Now!

The EERC debuted the fourth edition of the Bakken map, “Regional Drilling Activity in the Bakken Petroleum System,” at the 2014 Williston Basin Petroleum Conference (WBPC) in May. The 2-ft × 3-ft map displays regional drilling activity in the Bakken system in western North Dakota and portions of Montana and Saskatchewan.

First launched in 2011, the map has been updated yearly. The EERC accumulated a great degree of knowledge regarding the Bakken system through the EERC’s oil and gas programs.

The map illustrates where activity occurred in 2013 and the magnitude of that activity. This edition also features past Bakken petroleum system wells and locations of gas-processing plants.

Each year, the map has included a graphical representation of a relevant focus topic. This year the focus is on high-density infill drilling. Infill drilling optimizes and maximizes the economic returns and estimated ultimate recoveries of oil and gas in the region. The locations of select high-density well pads are called out.

Designed and produced by the EERC in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, the North Dakota Petroleum Council, and support from 22 industry sponsors, the Bakken map has become a staple among the oil and gas industry and has proven to be a valuable resource for those with a stake in North Dakota’s oil boom.

Order your map today!

New EERC Employee

Kyle Gjerding is a Drafter at the EERC, where he creates conceptual process designs and produces drawings to fabricate equipment systems in support of projects related to hydrogen systems, renewable fuels, advanced energy systems, and emission measurement and control. He has produced blueprints, 3-D models, and process flow diagrams for a coal sequestration system, a hydrogen-producing on-demand system, a transport reactor development unit feed system, and a pilot-scale advanced biomass gasification system and has conducted operation and testing of a 4-lb reactor.

“I enjoy the variety of work that is given to me here at the EERC,” said Gjerding. “Being able to work on multiple projects allows me to learn something different every day.”    

Gjerding earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Management from Park University in 2014. He plans to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree at the University of North Dakota. Gjerding has worked at the EERC since 2008, first as a student employee and then as a temporary part-time employee. Originally a mechanical engineering student, Gjerding has done consulting work in the auto industry and worked as an intern for two summers for a construction firm building the San Diego Federal Courthouse and the University of California, San Diego, Biomedical Facility. 

Gjerding enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. He has competed in the Tough Mudder obstacle course challenge, the Color Run, and the Uffda Mud Run, and he also teaches fitness classes at Choice Health and Fitness.