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No Fuel Too Big or Too Small: EERC Fuel-Processing Facilities Provide Quality Results for Clients

When new energy systems are tested or the issues associated with existing systems are examined, quality processing of the fuel being tested is critical to ensure quality results. Each year, the EERC prepares over 150 different solid fuel samples in support of combustion and gasification research projects. If the fuel meets chemical, moisture, and size specifications, then the results will be representative and reproducible and will strengthen the long-term commercialization opportunity.

The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) has significant experience in processing a wide range of solid fuels from coal to biomass, such as wood pellets, coffee processing waste, switchgrass, cornstalks, railroad ties, poultry waste, and biosolids. Depending on the testing requirements, fuels ranging anywhere from 300 pounds to 20 tons of fuels are typically processed.

“Not that many facilities around the United States can process small batches of coal,” said EERC Senior Research Manager Jason Laumb. “At the EERC, we can receive any size coal from the mine and pulverize it. Our clients don’t have to send prepared coals here; it saves them a lot of time and money in the demonstration process,” he said.

The EERC also has significant experience with fuel blends. A custom process is performed to mix in other products, such as raw wood or a specified adsorbent additive. With the majority of projects requiring just a single day of testing, the EERC can process several different coal sources each week.

“In the combustion test facility, we are running a minimum of 2 or 3 days of testing each week,” said Laumb. “The quality of the pulverized fuel sample is often critical to achieving quality results for clients.”

Once the fuel is thoroughly mixed and dried to specification, it is moved into a hopper which is then sealed to prevent contamination. The hopper is next transported to any number of technologies for testing within the EERC’s demonstration facilities, including the fluid-bed gasifier, the combustion test furnace, the entrained-flow gasifier, the circulating fluid-bed gasifier, or the transport reactor development unit.

For more information about the EERC’s fuel prep facilities and how they can support your technology evaluations, contact Jason Laumb at (701) 777-5114 or jlaumb@undeerc.org.

First Shareholder Meeting for EERC Partner, ME2C: A Model of Success in Technology Commercialization

Midwest Energy Emissions Corp (OTCQB: MEEC), a market leader in mercury control systems for the coal-fired power industry, held an Annual Meeting of Shareholders at the Energy& Environmental Research Center (EERC).
During the meeting, shareholders gathered to vote to reelect board members (left) and other measures that were up for shareholder vote. Additionally, the company then held a general business update meeting thereafter to review the Company’s third-quarter results.

“This is a very proud moment for all of us at ME2C,” said President and CEO, R. Alan Kelley.
“The opportunity to share our success with our shareholders is another important milestone. After 20 years of dedicated research and technology development, this technology is in a very strong position to make a significant impact on the coal-fired power sector in mercury control. We now have 15 coal-fired power generation units under contract and are looking forward to many more opportunities ahead.”

ME2C’s patented SEATM technology (pioneered by a team of researchers at the EERC) uses a combination of materials tailored and formulated specifically to customers’ coal-fired power units. The technology is an effective and economically sound solution to achieving mercury emission capture rates of over 90% in coal-fired power plants.
“ME2C, the EERC, and the EERC Foundation® have had a long and mutually beneficial partnership,” said EERC Director Tom Erickson. “We are honored to host and participate in ME2C’s shareholder meeting at our facilities in Grand Forks where this technology was conceived. This partnership is the model for licensing and commercialization of our technologies, and we look forward to working alongside ME2C.”
The Company reported third-quarter revenues of $1.37 million, up 49% over the previous year.  The Company also announced the appointment of John Pavlish as Chief Technology Officer.
“John comes to us from the world-renowned Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC).  We have worked with John for a long time as part of the EERC where he was the key contributor to the development of the patented technology that MEEC has now commercialized for mercury control," said Kelley.
Mr. Kelley concluded, “This is a great day for our Company, as we announce significant growth in revenues, timely execution for our customers, and the broadening out of our team with industry-leading talent. As we look ahead, our focus continues to be on delivering maximum value to shareholders, leading-edge execution and quality for our customers, and a material focus on innovation.”
For more information, view the full EERC news release. 
To find out about how the EERC can develop emission control solutions for you, please contact Tom Erickson, EERC Director, at (701) 777-5130.

EERC Bakken Production Optimization Program Receives Stewardship Award

The Energy & Environmental Research Center Bakken Production Optimization Program received the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission's (IOGCC’s) 2014 Chairman’s Stewardship Award for Environmental Partnership. The award was presented by 2014 IOGCC Vice Chair Cathy Foerster, Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, during the IOGCC Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio. Read the full news release...


Pictured left to right: Lynn Helms, North Dakota Industrial Commission Oil and Gas Division; Dave Searle, Marathon Oil; John Harju, EERC; Dawn Coughlin, Hess; Jack Ekstrom, Whiting; Eileen Dey, ConocoPhillips; Cathy Foerster, Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission; Mark Johnsrud, Nuverra Environmental Solutions; and Roger Kelley, Continental Resources. Unable to join in accepting were representatives of Hitachi, Oasis, SM Energy, and XTO Energy.


EERC Bakken Production Optimization Program team (back, from left to right): Chad Wocken, Jay Almlie, John Hamling, John Harju, Steve Hawthorne, Brad Stevens, and Lisa Botnen; (front, left to right) Grant Dunham, Jim Sorensen, Lucia Romuld, Ed Steadman, Beth Kurz, and Dan Stepan.

EERC’s Optical Microscopy Technique Focuses on Rock Porosity and Permeability

EERC Research Scientist Blaise Mibeck is experimenting with optical microscope image analysis techniques such as extended depth of field (EDF) and image segmentation to enhance the analysis of rock samples in order to study the porosity, or open space between grains of the rock, and permeability, a measure of the ease with which a fluid can move through a porous rock.

EDF allows the EERC to make high-resolution 2-D and 3-D images of core samples from oil and gas reservoirs and saline formations that can show detailed structure and composition of the rock and its porosity. Image segmentation simplifies digital images to make them easier to analyze quantitatively. Mibeck calls these techniques “more tools in the toolbox” for delivering information to improve oil and gas recovery and CO2storage in environmentally safe ways.

Mibeck develops experimental apparatus and analytical techniques in the EERC’s Natural Materials Analytical Research Laboratory. His work also involves quantitative phase analysis, powder x-ray diffraction, optical microscopy, and other material science techniques for the analysis of geologic samples.

“The microscopic structure of the rock is responsible for the macroscopic behavior of the formation,” said Mibeck. “Knowing what the pores look like and what is coating the grains, the size distribution of the pores and fractures, as well as how they connect to each other can provide information to help predict how a formation is going to behave when something is pumped into it or out of it, as in enhanced oil recovery or CO2storage.

“I am always interested in getting as much useful information out of an analytical technique as possible,” said Mibeck.

Optical microscopy is a common and relatively inexpensive means of analyzing rock samples. Unfortunately, at high magnifications it has a limited depth of field, making it difficult to image the entire thickness of a sample in focus. However, with the EDF technique, Mibeck is able to make high-resolution 2-D images or even 3-D images from a series of narrow-focus 2-D images. The EDF technique produces a higher-resolution image, allowing researchers to see smaller features. It provides a third dimension that is useful in clarifying the surface of pore walls, grain boundaries, and intergrain structure.

In the animated images shown below, the blue areas indicate pore space, or porosity, in the rock.

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“There is no easy way to observe fluid flowing through individual pores,” said Mibeck, “but we can use image analysis to get important information like how tortuous (twisty) the pores are in a sample, what the distribution of pore size is. This information is useful for understanding the history of the formation and may also allow predictions of how the formation will behave.

“Understanding the rock structure is critical to understanding how injections of water, CO2, or H2S will enhance oil production,” said Mibeck. “By determining the surface area of different minerals on the pore wall, we can predict how changing fluid conditions (such as pH) will change porosity,” he said.

For more information on EDF, image segmentation, or other optical microscope laboratory techniques, contact Blaise Mibeck at bmibeck@undeerc.org. For more information on the Natural Materials Analytical Research Laboratory, contact Beth Kurz at (701) 777-5050 or at bkurz@undeerc.org, or find information on the EERC Web site at www.undeerc.org/Facilities/Labs/Materials.aspx.

New Video: Installing a Casing-Conveyed Permanent Downhole Monitoring System

Both CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations and CO2 geologic storage operations can benefit from continuous pressure and temperature monitoring of the producing or storage reservoir and the overlying rock layers. Permanent downhole monitoring (PDM) uses casing-conveyed temperature and pressure acquisition systems to provide continuous real-time information to support decision making and reservoir performance evaluations. 

This 20-minute video is intended to acquaint a technical audience with the basics of casing-conveyed PDM systems as well as the unique field installation practices that these systems require using an example from a CO2 EOR project in the Denbury Resources-operated Bell Creek oil field in southeastern Montana. 


For more information on the video, visit the Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership Web site or contact Charles D. GoreckiPCOR Partnership Program Manager, at (701) 777-5355 or cgorecki@undeerc.org