News Ticker


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.

EERC Welcomes Jace Anderson

Jace Anderson has joined the EERC as a Research Engineer with the Energy Systems Development team. Jace contributes to the design, modeling, and fabrication of experimental equipment. He interprets data and assists in preparing proposals, reports, and papers, as well as presenting project results to clients.

“What drew me to this job was a combination of wanting a place where I would be challenged and encouraged to expand my knowledge as well as getting the opportunity to be involved in important work and research,” Jace said. “I am especially interested in working hands-on with the systems available at the EERC and being able to work with a diverse client base and staff.”

Jace says it was his interest in trying to figure out how things work, as well as his knack for problem solving, that led him to pursue the field of engineering. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of North Dakota.

A native of Cloquet, Minnesota, Jace is an avid runner and gym goer who also enjoys reading. Fun facts: In high school, Jace played the euphonium in the concert band and taught himself piano.

EERC Welcomes Jasmine Oleksik

The EERC welcomes Jasmine Oleksik to the EERC team as a Research Engineer in Fuels and Renewable Energy at the EERC. She contributes to the design, modeling, and fabrication of experimental equipment. She interprets data and helps to prepare proposals, reports, and papers, as well as present project results to clients.

Jasmine holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering with a Chemistry and Sustainable Energy Concentration from the University of North Dakota (UND). She will receive her Masters of Science in Chemical Engineering from UND this fall. Her principal areas of interest and expertise include recovery of rare-earth elements from coal and coal by-products, chemical looping combustion, and oil extraction for utilization in biofuels.

“I had the opportunity to participate in research throughout my college career, which led me to want to pursue research as a career,” Jasmine noted. “Working at the EERC provides an opportunity to pursue a career in research and continue my education, while staying in North Dakota.” 

Originally from Williston, North Dakota, Jasmine chose chemical engineering because she has “always liked to problem-solve and it offered diversity of potential career paths across a large number of industries.”

An avid sports fan, Jasmine enjoys watching UND hockey, Minnesota Twins, and Minnesota Vikings games. She loves outdoor activities and going camping and hiking. Fun fact: Jasmine got married on June 15 to another UND hockey fan. Her husband is an independent contractor in Williston.

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.

Third Annual "Energizing North Dakota" Partnership Summit held May 10 in Grand Forks

The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) hosted the 3rd Annual Partnership Summit on May 10. The event served as a forum for partners from multiple energy industry sectors to discuss critical topics. North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness welcomed over 100 attendees, who represented public utilities, private industry, government entities, and energy research experts.

Keynote speaker Steven Winberg, U.S. Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, discussed the nation’s transition from an energy importer to a top producer, moving toward exporting. He highlighted North Dakota’s collaborations between universities, industry, and state and federal government as the example for the nation.

North Dakota Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford discussed energy’s vital role in the state’s economy and key state initiatives. North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring discussed opportunities to capitalize on the state’s agriculture and energy synergies, and North Dakota Senator Rich Wardner provided updates on the Energy Development and Transmission Committee’s priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

Neset Consulting CEO and State Board of Higher Education member Kathleen Neset discussed ways to prepare future energy industry employees for their careers while they are students. A multidisciplinary discussion panel focused on carbon dioxide and its role as a bridge between different energy sectors; specifically, between Coal and Oil and Gas. EERC Vice President for Strategic Partnerships John Harju moderated the panel of experts who included Stacey Dahl, External Affairs and Communications Manager at Minnkota Power Cooperative; Robert Mau, President of Eagle Operating, Inc.; and Michael Nasi, partner with the Jackson Walker law firm.

Dr. Brian Kalk, EERC Director of Energy Systems Development, outlined progress made toward advancing the goals developed during the 2017 Partnership Summit for North Dakota’s energy future. These goals include doubling or tripling the current oil production in the state, eliminating pipeline leaks, increasing oil recovery rates in existing wells, maximizing the use of North Dakota natural gas and energy export opportunities, enhancing energy reliability, educating the world on energy and environmental topics, and making the best use of synergies between the agriculture and energy industries. Specific examples of progress made toward these goals in the last year are summarized in the EERC’s newest resource, “Energizing North Dakota’s Future: Advancing the Goals.”

“We have not only the opportunity but also the obligation to the citizens of North Dakota to change and prepare for the future,” says EERC CEO Tom Erickson. “Venues like this foster collaboration on those opportunities."

Click here to view event photos.

Industry responds to governor’s initiative to improve pipeline technology; Program funding approved by North Dakota Industrial Commission

Bismarck, N.D. – A research and development project focused on advancing new technologies to prevent and detect pipeline leaks is moving ahead after receiving approval and a $1.6 million grant from the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC) this week. Leaders within the oil and gas industry in the state proposed the Intelligent Pipeline Integrity Program (iPIPE) in direct response to a challenge made by Governor Doug Burgum last year to eliminate pipeline leaks through innovation. The grant will be matched by private contributions made by industry partners in the program, for an overall cost of $3.7 million. 

“We’re excited to see the private sector step up and embrace the challenge to do more with emerging technologies to solve the problem of pipeline leaks or spills within the gathering system in our state,” said Governor Burgum, who chairs the NDIC. “The Intelligent Pipeline Integrity Program is a novel approach worthy of support from the Industrial Commission and our state leadership, and I eagerly anticipate the results of their research.”

“As industry leaders we feel that the iPIPE consortium can truly achieve our goal – to improve integrity and performance of our gathering system in the state,” said Brent Lohnes, general manager in North Dakota for Hess Corporation and iPIPE consortium partner. “With our core partners, this effort will be done in a way that embraces the best of new technologies, to both better detect releases and to prevent them from happening.”

The iPIPE consortium partners include Hess Corporation, Equinor (formerly Statoil), Goodnight Midstream, Oasis Midstream Partners, ONEOK, the Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) in Grand Forks, N.D. and several technology providers.

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.

The $1.6 million from NDIC’s Oil and Gas Research Program, together with industry support of the project, will fund the planned three-and-a-half year program. The iPIPE consortium has proposed incremental funding of the project to allow for additional program partners and research as consortium membership and investment from oil and gas companies grows. Lohnes and other industry leaders say they hope iPIPE will serve as a nationwide model for responsible state involvement in infrastructure integrity research and development.

The NDIC consists of Burgum as chairman, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.

Drilling into a new economy?

By Jan Orvik, UND Today

Jason Laumb thinks he may be on to something “big.”
What’s got him thinking so big? Laumb, principal engineer and coal utilization group leader at UND’s Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC), says it’s all about reducing carbon emissions while enhancing oil recovery and benefiting the environment at the same time.
Jason Laumb and the EERC are working with industry partners on a $6-million project to determine the cost of installing a carbon-capture system at a coal-powered utility plant, the Milton R. Young Station power plant near Center, N.D., northwest of Bismarck. The idea is to use such a facility to capture carbon dioxide and use it to enhance oil recovery by injecting it deep into the ground, where it would be forever stored. Image courtesy of Kari Suedel of the EERC.

"This could mean a new economy, new business, a larger tax base and hundreds of jobs,” said Laumb, a principal investigator on a new project to capture carbon dioxide. “This could be a big deal for the state of North Dakota.”

To help facilitate this result, Laumb and the EERC are determining the cost to install a carbon-capture system at a coal-powered utility plant, the Milton R. Young Station power plant near Center, N.D., northwest of Bismarck. The power plant provides electricity to power cooperatives throughout eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.
“Burning fossil fuels produces primarily CO2 and water,” Laumb said of the power plant. “We’re looking at grabbing the CO2 out of the flue gas, and using it for enhanced oil recovery.” Injecting the gas into oil reservoirs, he said, lowers the viscosity of the oil so it flows easier through the pores of tight rock, boosting oil well output. The carbon dioxide used in the process is then permanently trapped deep in the reservoir.
Larger project
This is just the beginning, Laumb said. The goal is to complete the initial project and see if it’s cost-effective, and then continue with final design and construction plans. There’s already a small test pilot project at EERC headquarters on the UND campus.
The $6-million project was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. It’s a collaborative effort, with an additional $1 million from the North Dakota Industrial Commission’s Lignite Research Program and $250,000 each from ALLETE Clean Energy (ACE), a power supplier in Duluth, Minn., and Minnkota Power Cooperative. Other partners include technology vendor Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and an engineering firm, Burns & McDonnell.
The EERC’s partners provide financial backing, engineering evaluations, site access, operations data and risk assessment and evaluation, Laumb said. He added that strong support also has come from state and federal elected officials, key regulators, labor unions, coal mines and other electric utilities.
Primary outcomes
In addition to determining design and cost estimates for a new carbon-capture facility, the EERC also hopes to gather more information on economic benefits of carbon-capture equipment and related technologies. The results will support the U.S. Department of Energy’s goal of reducing carbon-capture costs to $30 per metric ton by 2030. It also could lay the groundwork for the largest integrated postcombustion CO2 capture facility in the world.
Laumb thinks the project’s technology could transfer to other power plants in the nation.
“If it looks feasible to build a postcombustion-capture facility and move forward with a capture station,” he said, “That means new jobs.”
A new carbon-capture industry would benefit all of North Dakota, Laumb said, as well as have a positive effect on the environment.
So why is this such a big idea?
“The oil boom revitalized some communities and stopped population loss; this could do the same thing,” Laumb said. “The two biggest industries in North Dakota are agriculture and energy – lignite, oil and gas. Carbon capture and enhanced oil recovery could help grow this critical North Dakota economic pillar.”
This article originally ran in UND Today on April 12, 2018 and was written by Jan Orvik.

EERC Welcomes Mike Davies

Mike Davies has joined the EERC team as a Budget Analyst. He supports researchers and project managers in the areas of cost management, personnel planning, and cost projections, and he develops detailed cost proposals, manages and oversees multiple project budgets, and updates principal investigators on a regular basis regarding their projects’ financial status.

Mike holds a bachelor's degree in Accounting from the University of North Dakota. He comes from a family with deep roots in accounting and finance as well as law practice, so accounting was a natural choice for him to study.

“The people here are fantastic. There aren’t enough hours in a day to express how welcoming and warm everyone has been thus far,” Mike said of the EERC. Mike proved he’s a good sport when he allowed himself to be drafted as a goalie during the 2nd Annual EERC Hockey Tournament recently.

A native of Plymouth, Minnesota, Mike comes from a large family (he and his twin sister have 28 first cousins). A “big hockey guy,” he loves sports and outdoor activities, and he’s not afraid of a challenge. During his first experience with downhill skiing, he found himself skiing down a black diamond slope by mistake and took roughly an hour to reach the bottom. Outdoor sports and running numbers in his head aside, Mike also likes “just being a couch potato and watching a good movie with my fiancĂ© and our two spoiled cats.”

EERC Vice President named to National Coal Council

John Harju
University of North Dakota (UND) Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC)’s John Harju has been invited by U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to serve as a member of the National Coal Council (NCC). Harju is the Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at the EERC. NCC is one of three federal advisory committees that provide recommendations for U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy programs and policies.

NCC’s principal activity is to provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary of Energy on matters relating to coal and the coal industry. It is a nonprofit advisory group chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) enacted in 1972. Expert members are appointed by the Secretary of Energy and serve in a voluntary capacity. There are around 90 committee members. Brian Kalk, Director of Energy Systems Development at the EERC, is also a member, having been appointed in his prior capacity as one of North Dakota’s Public Service Commissioners.   

“It is an honor to be invited by the Secretary, as well as the balance of the NCC membership, to serve,” says Harju.

Harju is also a member of the National Petroleum Council, which was chartered under FACA as well. His appointment to NCC runs through 2019.

EERC’s Laumb and Peck honored for contributions to the lignite industry

Jason Laumb
The Lignite Energy Council recently honored 26 individuals for their dedication and contributions to the lignite industry during the Council’s 45th Annual Meeting on April 4, 2018, in Bismarck, ND. Among those award recipients are two University of North Dakota Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) employees. Jason Laumb and Wes Peck were both presented with the Distinguished Service Award in Research and Development for their efforts to capture and store carbon dioxide from new and existing lignite-based power plants.

Wes Peck
Laumb is a principal engineer and the team leader for the coal utilization group, and Peck is a principal geologist and team leader for the geosciences group. 

The EERC is a global leader in developing solutions to energy and environmental challenges, known for its ability to bring cutting edge science and energy technologies to commercialization. 

EERC Welcomes Jason Novak

The EERC welcomes Jason Novak to the position of Technology Development Operator. Jason works on project teams to set up, construct, operate, and maintain bench- and pilot-scale equipment for EERC clients. He also fabricates new equipment and/or modifies standard equipment when projects call for it. His work assists project managers and principal investigators in obtaining needed project data and results for our customers.

Jason previously worked in the beverage industry for Coca-Cola in Grand Forks and for a drilling company in the Bakken for 6 years. He has taken coursework toward a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the University of North Dakota.

“Being able to work in the energy field researching and improving how we utilize modern practices is what interested me in the Technology Development Operator job at the EERC,” Jason said. He said he especially likes the people and environment at the EERC and said that everyone is eager to help him get acclimated.

Jason is engaged, and a few of his hobbies are hunting, fishing, golfing, and snow skiing.

EERC Welcomes Kris McNab

Kris McNab has joined the EERC team as a Technology Development Operator. Kris works on project teams to construct, operate, and maintain testing equipment in support of EERC projects and client research. He modifies standard equipment and fabricates experimental equipment when necessary and assists project managers and principal investigators in obtaining project data and results.

“What interested me about the job is the chance to learn the technical side of a lot of the things I had built in the past. It is a fast-paced job at times but needs to be done right with attention to detail,” said Kris. “What I like the most at this position so far is the people. I have lots of great coworkers who are easy to get along with and learn from. In some cases, we can teach each other things to make the job easier.”  

Kris has worked for over 20 years in construction in a wide variety of jobs, most recently as a millwright. He has experience with pipefitting, welding and fabrication, concrete, carpentry, and sampling and testing for quality control. Kris will soon be moving to Emerado, North Dakota, but said he has called many places home at times because of “extended stays on different jobs across this great country.”

Even when he’s not working, Kris enjoys building and working on projects around the house. His hobbies include hunting, fishing, and target shooting. He also enjoys spending time with friends and family, just relaxing and enjoying those he cares about.

31 Days of Giving

Tickets are now available for 31 Days of Giving, a raffle with a prize drawn every day in March, and two drawings every Saturday and Sunday! 100% of proceeds will be used to support the EERC 2018 Social Cause, benefiting the Northland's Rescue Mission Backpack Program.

Purchase raffle tickets for $10 at the EERC Front desk. Winners will be drawn every day at 10 a.m. Need not be present to win. 

Congratulations to our winners so far! 
  • March 1: Wilma Smith
  • March 2: Terry Adam 
  • March 3: Lynn Becker and Carolyn Norman
  • March 4: David Lorenz and Scott Clayton 
  • March 5: Wes Peck
  • March 6: Rosemary Flynn
  • March 7: Dennis McCoy
  • March 8: Pauline Franklin
  • March 9: Natalie Roycel
  • March 10: Dennis McCoy and Tammy Stevenson
  • March 11: Ted Aulich and Austin McRae 
  • March 12: Steve Olson
  • March 13: Doug Galle
  • March 14: Wes Peck
  • March 15: Sue LaFleur 
  • March 16: Tami Votava
  • March 17: St. Paddy's Bonus Drawing - Michelle Montgomery
  • March 17: Gary Theisen and Michelle Olderbak
  • March 18: Anita Kemnitz and Mike Davies 
  • March 19: June Novacek
  • March 20: Doug Galle 
  • March 21: Doug Hajicek
  • March 22: Casey Noreen 
  • March 23: Wes Peck
  • March 24: Nikhil Patel and Saurabh Chimote
  • March 25: Janelle Ensrud and Chris Shirek 
  • March 26: Jessie Erickson 
  • March 27: Jessie Erickson 
  • March 28: Joyce Riske 
  • March 29: Kevin Bushaw
  • March 30: Tom Doll
  • March 31: Tom Erickson and Ashley Mitchell
  • Final Drawing: Terri Kemnitz

All tickets will be entered into a Grand Prize drawing for a One-Hour Heating & Air Conditioning and Benjamin Franklin Plumbing package worth $1000 to be drawn on March 31st.

Click on the prizes below for more information.

Because of the overwhelming response to sponsorship opportunity, there are too many logos to display. Please patronize these area businesses. This would not be possible without their generosity!