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EERC Welcomes Jessica Wick

Jessica Wick is a Geoscientist at the EERC, where she interfaces with a diverse team of scientists and engineers to assess project uncertainties in oil and gas development and geologic CO2 storage. Her work includes developing geophysical models of the subsurface, performing regional geological characterization and petrophysical analyses of geophysical well log data, and evaluating geologic core samples. She holds a B.S. degree in Geological Engineering with a specialty in petroleum from UND.

“It is great to be encouraged to learn and to ask about areas that I’m not an expert in. It has widely expanded my knowledge,” said Jessica. She was employed at the EERC as a student for 6 months in 2019, which she credits with her interest in joining our team full-time. “My time as a student showed me that the EERC is a place where you can grow and be a valued member of the team. The employees are friendly and truly care about each other.” 

Jessica grew up in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with two brothers and an adopted sister from China. Although she doesn’t have family in Grand Forks, she does have two dogs, two cats, a bearded dragon, and a snake. In her free time, she enjoys weightlifting, snowboarding, and traveling.

Red Trail Energy Hosts Open House in Richardton

Red Trail Energy, LLC CEO Gerald Bachmeier
presents to community members. 
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 to hear about the latest developments on a local carbon capture and storage (CCS) project.

With the support of the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), RTE is investigating CCS technology as a way to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions associated with ethanol production. Reducing emissions enables ethanol producers to be more competitive in states that have low-carbon fuel programs, such as California. CCS technology captures and permanently stores carbon dioxide emissions.

RTE CEO Gerald Bachmeier gave a presentation about the project and answered questions from community members. Scientists and engineers from the University of North Dakota (UND) Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) provided information about RTE’s seismic survey results and the suitability of the geology at the site to permanently store carbon dioxide. 

“Using CCS to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of our ethanol ensures the long-term viability of RTE in a highly competitive global market," said Bachmeier. “We are excited to continue our partnership with the EERC in this investigation, and we are very appreciative of the community support thus far.”

Next steps for the RTE CCS Project involve further studying the deep rock layers at the RTE site and obtaining necessary permits and regulatory compliance for safe and permanent carbon dioxide storage. 

EERC Principal Policy and Regulatory Strategist
Kevin Connors explains CCUS storage layers.
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 Dawn Zahradka

Dawn Zahradka is a Building Services Technician at the EERC, where she cleans and maintains specific areas of the EERC building complex.

“My coworkers are the best. I felt welcomed and like part of the team from the start,” said Dawn. She has worked custodial jobs in the past and brings many years of experience to the EERC. 

Dawn was born and raised in the country outside of Grand Forks. She always had a knack for working on vehicles and also spent time cleaning scrap metal for her dad. Dawn loves spending time with her children and grandchildren and enjoys their unique senses of humor.

EERC Welcomes Darin Braun

Darin Braun is a Master Electrician at the EERC, where he installs, maintains, and repairs electrical systems and equipment for commercial and industrial applications and in the EERC complex.

Darin was interested in his job at the EERC because of the variety of work he can do. “I was really looking for a place that offered stability along with work that would challenge me,” he said. 

Darin grew up and still resides in Northwood, North Dakota. He enjoys spending time with his family and said he likes almost any outdoor activity he can do with his kids.

EERC Welcomes Daisy Selvaraj

Dr. Daisy Selvaraj has joined the EERC as a Research Engineer, where she supports business development activities related to grid integration of renewable energy systems and batteries, grid modeling and simulation/data processing, and asset management. In addition, she holds a teaching position in the Department of Electrical Engineering at UND. Daisy holds a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from Visvesvaraya Technological University, Belagavi, India; an M.E. degree in High-Voltage Engineering from the College of Engineering Guindy, Anna University, Tamilnadu, India; and a B.E. degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the Bharathidasan University, India. She is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Indian Society for Technical Education. Daisy has authored over 30 technical publications for peer-reviewed journals and conferences and is currently a reviewer for the journal, IEEE Access.

Daisy grew up in a small town called Tiruchirapalli in the state of Tamilnadu, India, where she lived for nearly 26 years. She lived there for nearly 26 years and went to school in Tiruchirapalli as well. Her parents and siblings still reside there. After marrying her husband, David, she moved to Bengaluru, a larger city in India known for being one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country. Daisy worked as a Postdoc at the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UND before joining the EERC. 

“As a Research Engineer at the EERC, I have found unlimited opportunities to learn and address the needs of the energy industry towards making lives better. We are in a landmark moment of contributing to a greener Earth, and the EERC is at the center of energy research. That is what makes my work feel meaningful,” Daisy said. “I always wanted to work for an organization leading the future of the power industry. The EERC is the perfect fit for my career goals that focus on a blend of futuristic and technology-driven research that has immediate relevance to and impact on the power sector.” 

Daisy enjoys spending time with family and friends and being outdoors. She considers her role as a mother to be the most challenging but says it is also one of the most rewarding. She also likes cooking Indian cuisine, especially rice and lentil curry, her favorite meal.

Adding Up the Numbers of a Ground-Breaking Project

In late October, staff at the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) celebrated the success of Project Carbon and thanked engineers and operators for their hard work during the past months. T-shirts that read “I survived Project Carbon 2019” were gifted as a small token of appreciation to the crews that made it happen. As John Kay, EERC Principal Engineer, stated, “There is not another crew in the world who could have done this.”

Project Carbon began in September 2017 as a pre-front-end engineering and design (pre-FEED) study for Project Tundra. Project Tundra is a bold initiative to build the world’s largest carbon capture facility in North Dakota. Innovative technologies are being researched to capture up to 90% of the CO2 emissions from the Milton R. Young Station’s Unit 2 generator – the equivalent of permanently taking 600,000 gasoline-fueled vehicles off the road. 

Four EERC engineers designed the carbon capture system. Following approval, preparation for field work at the EERC began and lasted for 8 months. The carbon capture system was assembled at the EERC in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and tested for 4 weeks before it was finally ready for transport to Minnkota's Milton R. Young Station, a two-unit, lignite coal-based power plant located near Center, North Dakota.

Moving the capture system from Grand Forks to Center required three tractor trailers and 2 months of installation time. It was installed by EERC employees while temperatures dropped well below zero, to nearly  -35°F. Over half a mile of piping was installed at the Milton R. Young Station, and more than a dozen on-site changes were implemented.

The carbon capture equipment was operated by 31 people during the 4 months of operation. An additional six people at the EERC spent around 80% of their time in logistical support of field activities.

A single shift of field work involved over 16 hours in a vehicle, which means that over 500 hours were spent in vehicles during testing alone. In total, an estimated 69,259 miles were traveled by EERC employees during this time. All together, they spent more than 750 nights in hotels from the start of assembly through the completion of field testing.

“The EERC’s team provided us with invaluable knowledge and expertise through Project Carbon,” said Gerry Pfau, Minnkota’s senior manager of project development. “The carbon capture pilot system installed at the Young Station produced real-world data that will be vitally important as we begin the advanced engineering and design phase of Project Tundra. Working with the EERC helped us take another positive step toward making this exciting project a reality.”

The carbon capture equipment was operated for a total of over 2,500 hours, and around 100 metric tons of CO2 was separated from flue gas; enough CO2 to fill 11 million party balloons.

Project Carbon will wrap up at the end of 2019. Project Tundra is now headed to a FEED study, the final engineering step before attempting to secure financing and construction authorization. The project was recently awarded $9.8 million by the U.S. Department of Energy to support the study. 

“The EERC is extremely appreciative of all the time and effort invested by the operations crew to make Project Carbon a success,” said Jason Laumb, EERC Assistant Director for Advanced Energy Systems. “Ground-breaking projects like these are not possible without people who believe in the work they do.”

For more information about Project Tundra, please visit

EERC Welcomes Josh Strege

The EERC is pleased to announce that Joshua Strege has rejoined us as a Principal Process Engineer within the Energy Systems group. He leads the process engineering team in process modeling and techno-economic analysis efforts across applied research projects encompassing CO2 capture and transport, advanced power cycle technology development, and other energy conversion technologies.

Josh holds M.S. and B.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering from UND and was an EERC student employee from 2000–2005. Following his time as a student, he worked at the EERC as a Research Engineer for an additional 8 years, 2005–2013, operating equipment for high-pressure gasification as well as designing and operating syngas cleanup and conversion processes, including hot-gas cleanup, cold-gas cleanup, and liquid synthesis. 

Prior to his current position, Josh served as a Project Manager and Senior Engineer at Cirrus Aircraft. He was drawn back to the EERC by the people, the culture, and the variety of work. He said, “The people are the best aspect of being back at the EERC. I look forward to working with many familiar faces and new ones in the years to come.” 

Josh was raised north of Hallock, Minnesota, and attended Lancaster High School. He and his wife have three sons, and in his free time, Josh enjoys biking, skiing, riding his motorcycle, visiting family, and working in his garage.

EERC Welcomes Nicholas Stanislowski

The EERC welcomes Nicholas Stanislowski as a Research Scientist at the EERC, where he interacts with a team of scientists and engineers to address the challenges of advanced power generation and chemical processes. His work involves evaluating coal conversion and other chemical processes and predicting the fate of materials in chemical systems. His principal areas of interest and expertise include coal conversion; carbon capture, utilization, and storage; and data processing. He holds a B.S. degree in Geology from UND.

“I like the variety of research projects being done at the EERC. Being part of a diverse team gives me the ability to learn new technologies and processes that I wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to,” Nick said. “I’m excited for the ability to learn and grow as a scientist.” 

Nick first learned about the EERC as a student at UND, was able to tour the facilities, and remembers being impressed by the projects taking place. He was interested in the way fuels used every day for power are produced, and he wanted a research-oriented career. The combination of these is what led him to seek out his position at the EERC. 

Nick grew up in Minto, North Dakota, and has been in the Grand Forks area since beginning his undergraduate degree at UND in 2012. He likes that his job at the EERC allows him to stay in North Dakota close to family and friends. 

In his free time, Nick’s favorite hobby is fishing. He fishes year-round and always looks forward to being in a boat and fishing on new lakes. He also enjoys working on “anything with a motor,” including snowmobiles, boats, and vehicles. Nick also played bass guitar in a band with friends throughout high school and college.

EERC Welcomes Sofiane Djezzar

The EERC is pleased to welcome Dr. Sofiane Djezzar as a Geoscientist, where he develops and oversees the development of geophysical models of the subsurface, performs regional characterization, and performs petrophysical analyses of geophysical well log data, interfacing with a diverse team of scientists and engineers to assess project uncertainties in oil and gas development and geologic CO2 storage.

Sofiane holds a Ph.D. degree in Petroleum Engineering from UND and Magistere and Engineer degrees in Structural Geology from Houari Boumerdiene Sciences and Technology University, Bab-Ezzouar, Algiers, Algeria. He is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, American Rock Mechanics Association, and Algerian Association of Gas Industry. Sofiane has authored or coauthored numerous professional publications.

Sofiane became interested in working at the EERC while he was enrolled at UND to obtain his Ph.D., where he attended Lunch and Learn sessions presented by EERC experts. He said it is one of the nicest places to work and is his dream come true. “I am working on very interesting and challenging projects related to reservoir characterization, CO2 injection, and storage,” said Sofiane. “I am using the latest technologies and software related to these topics.” 

Prior to his position at the EERC, Sofiane worked for Sonatrach, an Algerian oil company, from 1998-2016 as a geologist and geoscientist. More recently, he was an instructor and teaching assistant at UND, and a research assistant at the EERC until he was hired into his new role. 

Sofiane and his wife have been married for 20 years. She is a Ph.D. student at UND studying Petroleum Engineering and will graduate in December. Sofiane has varied interests outside of his work, including swimming and scuba diving. His favorite diving experience was in the Mediterranean Sea. He also enjoys reading and watching movies, especially science fiction and history.

Thermal Recycling of Plastics

“Thermal Recycling of Plastics” provides a comprehensive review of research conducted to evaluate the conversion of waste plastics to hydrocarbon liquids and gasses suitable for reuse. Tests were performed on a wide variety of plastics and mixtures in a pilot-scale reactor at the EERC.

Click here to download the full EERC Thermal Recycling of Plastics report.

EERC Welcomes Lingyun Kong

The EERC is pleased to welcome Dr. Lingyun Kong as a Research Scientist in the Natural Materials Analytical Research Laboratory. Lingyun is responsible for conducting laboratory analyses and interpreting data in support of research activities related to improved production of unconventional oil and gas reservoirs, enhanced oil recovery in unconventional and conventional formations, and subsurface storage of CO2 and/or rich gas.

Lingyun holds a Ph.D. degree in Petroleum Engineering from UND; a Master of Geological Resources and Geological Engineering from the China University of Petroleum, Beijing; and a Bachelor of Resource Exploration Engineering from China University of Petroleum, East China.

Lingyun likes the working environment at the EERC, which he describes as comfortable and friendly. He is just beginning his career and feels this position fits his background and the skills he obtained while earning his Ph.D.

“My supervisor, Shane [Butler], and Beth [Kurz] are very approachable and professional, and I am very happy to work with them,” said Lingyun. He is appreciative of the opportunities that have been provided to him to advance his expertise and broaden his knowledge.

Before Lingyun started in his position, he completed a summer internship at the EERC that helped him determine this job would be a great fit. He first heard about the EERC while in school for his doctorate degree and knew of the prestigious partnerships and large number of applied research projects the EERC is awarded each year.

Lingyun grew up in China and came to the United States to pursue his Ph.D. His wife is a current Ph.D. candidate at UND in the Geological Engineering department. They enjoy cooking Chinese food and traveling. Lingyun also likes playing soccer and watching the English Premier League.

Almlie, Helms: Innovation Leads, Regs Follow

Opinion editorial written by Jay Almlie and Lynn Helms, published on October 20, 2019.

Jay Almlie

In May 2017, Gov. Doug Burgum asked oil and gas pipeline operators with assets in the state to participate in a daylong conversation on the topic of spills. The meeting came on the heels of several high-visibility spills in the state, as well as the nationally publicized Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protests.

Gov. Burgum’s message to the operators was that the public had zero tolerance for pipeline spills or leaks. Rather than threaten with a heavy hand of regulation however, he challenged the industry to apply technology and innovation to improve pipeline integrity and safety.

One result was the formation of North Dakota’s intelligent Pipeline Integrity Program (iPIPE), an approach that lets innovation lead and regulation follow, resulting in smarter, more practical policy. Here’s why it makes sense: In the age of social media, even small leaks can become big news, shared widely and perceived as a disaster. The cost of innovative technology and increased regulations could be a lot less than the price of lost social license due to public scrutiny.

Lynn Helms
On the other hand, regulators find it extremely difficult to keep up with the speed of technological innovation. Innovation is forward-looking and proactive, whereas regulation is often backward-looking. Regulation is in a race to keep up with innovation, if it’s working properly. So, how to break this cycle?

North Dakota’s answer was to have regulators mandate the result, but leave the process for getting there to industry. In the case of iPIPE, six major industry leaders stepped forward to work with the state’s oil and gas research and regulatory bodies, both under the direction of the North Dakota Industrial Commission, to foster creation and application of new technology to better detect and prevent pipeline leaks.

Each industry member contributes annually and commits to a multi-year program to ensure momentum. North Dakota provides cost match funding to the program, leveraging the available resources. Technology providers also provide substantial cost sharing to ensure they have a vested interest in the iPIPE process in return for a forum to test their products.

With coordination and support from the University of North Dakota’s Energy & Environmental Research Center, the iPIPE Technology Selection Panel hears presentations in a process some have likened to the television show “Shark Tank.” iPIPE hosts development and demonstration activities and provides feedback to advance the product offering closer to a commercial state.

Shared knowledge is at the core of iPIPE, as members share common challenges and solutions openly within this forum, elevating everyone’s performance in the safe delivery of oil and gas fluids to market. By their active participation, members demonstrate responsible citizenship to landowners, the general public, and regulators alike.

North Dakota’s progressive approach of funding cutting-edge research to maximize economic benefits from its oil fields, while minimizing environmental impacts, is making a difference beyond its borders as well. Companies with no operations in North Dakota have joined iPIPE, applying beneficial technologies in such areas as the DJ Basin of Colorado, the Permian Basin in New Mexico and Texas, and the Alberta Basin in Canada. iPIPE was among topics discussed at this year’s national “Energy Disruptors” conference hosted by energy data analytics provider Enverus.

Waiting for regulation often results in worse outcomes than being proactive about it. Regulation precipitated by an incident leaves regulators playing catch-up, companies playing defense, and the public mistrustful. Such regulation merely ensures the laggards meet minimum standards. Encouraging and supporting innovation allows operators to push the envelope on new technologies and best practices that regulation then follows.

Jay Almlie is a principal engineer at the Energy & Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota and manages iPIPE on behalf of the consortium members.

Lynn Helms is director of the Department of Mineral Resources for the State of North Dakota.

DOE Funds Projects Involving EERC

By Patrick C. Miller, UND Today

The U.S. Department of Energy is providing Minnkota Power Cooperative with $9.8 million for Project Tundra, a carbon capture, utilization and storage project at the Milton R. Young Station near Center, N.D., in which UND’s Energy & Environmental Research Center is involved. Image courtesy Minnkota Power Cooperative.

UND’s Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) has confirmed a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announcement made in mid-September that the agency is funding two projects in which the Center is involved.

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven previously said the EERC will receive $5 million from DOE for its Plains Carbon Dioxide Reduction (PCOR) Partnership Initiative to accelerate the deployment of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies. In addition, Hoeven said Grand Forks-based Minnkota Power Cooperative (MPC) will receive $9.8 million for Project Tundra in which the EERC is involved.

According to DOE, the EERC will form the PCOR Partnership to foster the development of carbon capture, utilization and storage in northwestern states and Canadian provinces.

“Areas included in this region are dominated by fossil energy production and coincide with abundant opportunities for geologic storage in sedimentary basins,” the agency said. “The partnership will identify and address onshore regional transport challenges facing commercial deployment of CCUS in an expanded region, compared to past initiatives.”

DOE visits EERC

In August, Hoeven brought two top federal officials to the EERC — Steven Winberg, DOE assistant secretary for fossil energy, and Lou Hrkman, DOE deputy assistant secretary for clean coal and carbon management. They toured EERC facilities and discussed research opportunities with the Center, including Project Tundra and PCOR. Hoeven is a member of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Committee.

In August, U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (right) brought Steven Winberg, DOE assistant secretary for fossil energy, to the EERC to discuss Project Tundra and the Plains Carbon Dioxide Reduction (PCOR) Partnership Initiative. Photo by Patrick C. Miller/UND Today.

According to Minnkota, the $9.8 million award from the DOE provides access to $15 million from the state of North Dakota’s Lignite Research Fund. The cooperative said funding will be used to conduct a Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) study on Project Tundra’s proposed carbon capture system at the Milton R. Young Station near Center, N.D.

“Project Tundra is a unique opportunity for North Dakota to lead the world in the advancement of carbon capture technologies,” said Mac McLennan, Minnkota president and CEO. “This Department of Energy grant will assist us in completing advanced research and engineering design on the project – one of the final steps before deciding whether to move forward and begin construction.”

$1 billion project

With an estimated cost of $1 billion, the goal for Project Tundra is to equip Unit 2 at the coal-based Young Station with technologies designed to capture more than 90 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The CO2 would then be permanently stored in a deep geologic formation more than a mile underground. The FEED study will support advanced design work, engineering and evaluation of project economics.

The UND Energy & Environmental Research Center is considered a leader in developing carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies that have application around the world. Image courtesy EERC.

“North Dakota is leading the way in developing CCUS technologies and these funds will help to advance these efforts, including enabling the completion Project Tundra’s engineering and design study,” Hoeven said. “Developing and deploying this technology is a win both for consumers, who will continue to have access to affordable energy, and for environmental stewardship.”

During the EERC visit, Hoeven noted that many countries will continue to use coal as an energy source. He stressed the importance of “cracking the code” to make CCUS technologically and economically viable.

“If we crack the code, it doesn’t just work in North Dakota, it works across the country and it works around the globe,” he said. “Why don’t we develop the solution so they can do it with the best economics and the best environmental standards?”

In addition to research on the CO2 capture system, Minnkota is also conducting significant research on deep geologic storage of CO2 near the Young Station. A geophysical survey will be completed near Center to gather information about rock layers in the deep subsurface.

EERC Welcomes Kevin Connors

Kevin Connors has joined the EERC as a Principal Policy & Regulatory Strategist. Within the Subsurface group, Kevin works with a multidisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, and business professionals to integrate legal and regulatory policy, economics, and tax perspectives with applied research related to incremental oil recovery, unconventional oil recovery, and CO2 capture and geologic storage. He holds a B.S. degree in geology from the University of Montana.

“I enjoy working on multiple projects. I am always learning something new and it seems like no 2 days are the same. Carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) has been one of my passions in my career, so I’m excited to contribute to the EERC’s efforts in advancing CCUS. I also enjoy getting to work with both the Subsurface team and the Energy Systems team,” Kevin said. 

Kevin first heard about the EERC when he began working in CCUS for the North Dakota Industrial Commission’s Oil and Gas Division and participated in the Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership meetings. He was drawn to his position at the EERC after working with the Center in previous roles he had with the State. Kevin said he had always recognized the EERC’s reputation as a leader in energy research and had great experiences with the EERC staff he met. 

Kevin grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and began his career working in the Bakken as a wellsite geologist. He eventually moved to North Dakota with his wife and son in 2010 when he began working for the State of North Dakota’s Oil and Gas Division. During those 8-plus years, Kevin worked in oil and gas development, CCUS, enhanced oil recovery, saltwater disposal, and gathering pipeline regulation. Also during that time, four of Kevin and his wife’s five children were born in North Dakota. Kevin and his family moved to Grand Forks in August of this year when Kevin accepted the job at the EERC, and the family is enjoying their new community. 

Kevin enjoys spending time with his wife and children, ages 10, 8, 6, 4, and 1. He also enjoys camping, hiking, and fly fishing in his free time. Kevin shares the EERC’s love of giving back and currently serves as a board member for the nonprofit organization Lespwa Lavi, which means “living hope” in Haitian Creole. The organization is headquartered in North Dakota and is developing a project to build a school, church, and medical clinic in rural Haiti.

EERC Welcomes Michelle Manthei

The EERC is pleased to welcome Michelle Manthei, Communications Coordinator with the Communications team. Michelle coordinates and assists in the development and planning of EERC communication and outreach activities.

“I love learning and hearing about all the research and great projects happening at the EERC,” Michelle said. “I have been able to meet new people every day, and the personal connections make the research that much more amazing.”

Michelle completed her bachelor’s degree in Communication at the University of North Dakota (UND) in August 2019 and was drawn to her position because it offered the opportunity to directly use her communication skills and knowledge. She previously worked as an Event Coordinator at the UND Alumni Association & Foundation. She started there as a student and worked her way up into a full-time position during her third year of college.

Michelle was raised in Grand Forks and enjoys living close to her immediate family members. She also likes traveling, seeing old friends, and trying new foods.

The Honorable Charles McConnell Receives 2019 Pioneer Award

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The Honorable Charles McConnell, Executive Director for Carbon Management and Energy Sustainability at the University of Houston (UH), is the 2019 Pioneer Award recipient.

The award was presented as part of the Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership (PCOR) annual meeting, held at the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) in Grand Forks. The Pioneer Award honors outstanding service to carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). Nine of the 24 previous Pioneer Award recipients were in attendance as McConnell received the award. 

“It is an honor and privilege to work with the EERC and the Partnership and participate as a member of the EERC Foundation Board of Directors,” said McConnell. “The recognized accomplishments in CCUS by the partnership are leading the market in the United States and for the world and have been a large part of my professional and personal career in energy. To be recognized as this year’s Pioneer Award winner is gratifying and humbling, and my only hope is to contribute further to the transformative progress led by my colleagues and friends here.” 

Prior to joining UH Energy, McConnell was Executive Director of the Energy and Environment Initiative at Rice University. He served as Assistant Secretary of Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) from 2011 to 2013. McConnell also previously served as Vice President of Carbon Management at Battelle Energy Technology in Columbus, Ohio, and with Praxair, Inc., as the Global VP of Energy and Hydrogen. He is currently a board member of the EERC Foundation, is a member of the National Coal Council, has served on the Society of Petroleum Engineers and National Petroleum Council subcommittees, and has held a number of board positions, including chairmanships of the Gasification & Syngas Technologies Council and the Clean Carbon Technology Foundation of Texas. 

The PCOR Partnership is led by the EERC at the University of North Dakota. Since 2003, the program has worked with over 120 public and private stakeholders to address carbon dioxide management as a viable solution to national energy and environmental concerns. 

A panel of industry CEOs provided the highlight for the 2019 annual meeting by conveying the sense of excitement that CCUS technology is generating in the PCOR Partnership region and beyond, as recent U.S. tax legislation has created a sense of urgency in driving forward the business case for CCUS projects. Chaired by McConnell, the panel included Wade Boeshans of BNI Energy, Chris Kendall of Denbury, John Minge of BP America, Mac McLennan of Minnkota Power Cooperative, and Paul Sukut of Basin Electric Power Cooperative. The annual meeting also featured presentations regarding recent PCOR Partnership accomplishments and other key CCUS projects. The Honorable Angelos Kokkinos, DOE, shared information on the DOE Fossil Energy Program. Kate Ryan discussed Denbury’s pioneering work in carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery, and attendees heard about various CCUS developments from Brent Sheets from the University of Alaska, Scott Quillinan with the University of Wyoming, David Greeson from the Proven Project Development Group, and Wes Peck from the EERC. 

For more information about the PCOR Partnership, visit

EERC Welcomes Jahangir Masud

Dr. Jahangir Masud has joined the EERC as a Research Scientist in the Electrochemical Process Development group. Masud works with a multidisciplinary team to conduct research on platinum group metal-free electrocatalysts on carbon-free supports for proton exchange membrane fuel cell applications.

“As an electrochemist in the field of energy, I knew the EERC to be one of the pioneer research centers providing solutions to today's most critical energy and environmental challenges through innovative science and engineering,” said Masud. 

His principal areas of interest and expertise include energy storage and conversion, electrocatalyst synthesis, and electrocatalysis. He is currently working on a project to develop carbon-free catalyst support for proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). 

“I am an electrochemist, so this is exactly the type of role I was looking for. At the EERC, I have freedom to explore different research areas in the field of energy. I am confident I will help make a major contribution and become a valuable member of the energy research team,” said Masud. 

Masud holds a Doctor of Science in Electrochemistry from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan. He received his Master of Science in Organic Chemistry and his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Shahjalal University of Science & Technology, Bangladesh. 

Originally from Bangladesh, Masud moved to the United States in December 2012 when he joined the University of Kansas Chemical & Petroleum Engineering department as a research scholar. Prior to joining the EERC, Masud served as a Research Associate at Missouri S&T in Rolla, Missouri. 

Masud is the proud father of two sons, one who just entered 2nd grade and one who just turned 1 year old. In his free time, Masud and his wife enjoy spending time with their sons as well as fishing, kayaking, traveling, and playing badminton.

EERC Projects Receive Honorable Mention at 2019 International Pittsburgh Coal Conference

Several EERC research projects were recently featured at the 2019 International Pittsburgh Coal Conference. Two of them received honorable mentions in the conference’s Best Paper and Poster Awards:

Honorable Mention Technical Poster 

"Rare-Earth Elements (REEs) in U.S. Coal-Based Resources: Sampling, Characterization, and Round-Robin Interlaboratory Study," Bruce C. Folkedahl, Christopher J. Zygarlicke, Carolyn M. Nyberg, Ian K. Feole, Energy & Environmental Research Center University of North Dakota; Steven A. Benson, Microbean Technologies Incorporated; James Hower, University of Kentucky; USA. 

Honorable Mention Technical Paper 

"Pilot Testing of Amine-Based Solvent at Low-Rank Coal-Fired Power System," Jason D. Laumb, Principal Engineer, John P. Kay, David J. Dunham, Bruce C. Folkedahl, University of North Dakota, USA; Keisuke Iwakura, Tatsuya Tsujiuchi, Takashi Kamijo, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, JAPAN; Tim Thomas, Mike Fowler, Osamu Miyamoto, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America Inc., USA. 

A full list of awardees can be found on the International Pittsburgh Coal Conference website.

EERC Welcomes Sai Wang

The EERC is pleased to introduce Dr. Sai Wang, a Petroleum Engineer in the Oilfield Operations Group. He supervises and assists in multiple aspects related to the design and execution of oil and gas field operations, ensuring operations meet the project goals, all regulations, and safety requirements and ensuring the project is completed in accordance with the program.

His principal areas of interest and expertise involve unconventional reservoirs, including reservoir engineering, CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and storage, production engineering, well stimulation, pipeline design, chemical EOR, analytical chemistry, and geochemistry. 

“Upscaling fundamental knowledge to real-life field applications is challenging in every engineering discipline. I am so proud to be a part of the enterprising team at the EERC, where hard-working experts and professionals make new ideas and inventions happen every day,” Sai said. “Each day we try to build a bridge between those two worlds—that of knowledge and that of the real world of an unconventional formation. That is what is most appealing to me and motivates me.” 

Sai holds a Ph.D. degree in Petroleum Engineering from the University of North Dakota and an M.S. degree in Petroleum Engineering from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. He earned his B.S. degree in Applied Chemistry from Hainan University, Haikou, China. 

Originally from China, Sai has lived in the United States for nearly 7 years. He and his wife have a 6-month-old baby boy. They like traveling to new places, especially out in nature. Sai enjoys playing basketball and watching the NBA—he’s a San Antonio Spurs fan. He also likes to go fishing with friends and family. 

Really good food is Sai’s passion. He enjoys cooking traditional Chinese food and loves to search out great food wherever he is. The best restaurant he’s eaten at this year is the Starved Rooster in Minot, North Dakota. Sai has become a connoisseur of buffalo wings, but his favorite food, hands down, is his mum’s home-made dumplings.

Nuverra and EERC Host Tour of BEST Facility

Nuverra Environmental Solutions and the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) recently hosted a tour of the BEST (Brine Extraction and Storage Test) facility in Watford City, North Dakota. Attendees included state lawmakers and industry stakeholders.

Treatment and handling of brine or “high total dissolved solids” waters associated with energy production can be challenging and not readily or economically accomplished using conventional water treatment techniques. These fluids are typically disposed of through geologic injection. The EERC and Nuverra have partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to establish this BEST facility to research ways to not only improve the management of fluid injection (including produced water disposal and CO2 storage) but also to develop technologies to treat those produced waters for beneficial use as an alternative to injecting them into a disposal well. The facility provides a first-of-a-kind site to develop and test water treatment technologies. Ultimately, the results of this work may improve the management and performance of geologic CO2 storage and saltwater disposal, extend the life of injection wells, and provide new sources of water or value-added products for beneficial use. 

“We’re excited to be partnering with the EERC on this important project,” said Steve London, Vice President of Business Development at Nuverra. “This can lead to additional economical options for the industry in dealing with the wastewater by-product of oil and gas production. We are proud to lend our support to technologies that are environmentally sustainable.”

The EERC recently hosted DOE Fossil Energy Secretary Steven Winberg for a tour and discussion of the technology being tested at the BEST site. Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Clean Coal and Carbon Management Lou Hrkman also toured the BEST site, along with North Dakota Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford and U.S. Senator John Hoeven’s Regional Director for western North Dakota, Shari Buck.

“The work we are doing with the BEST project could have far-reaching benefits to North Dakota’s energy industry,” said John Hamling, EERC Assistant Director for Integrated Projects. “The public–private partnership—with support from organizations like Nuverra, DOE, and the EERC—is key to successfully executing integrated projects like the one being conducted at the BEST site.”

Entities interested in working with project partners to develop or demonstrate brine treatment technologies should contact the EERC at

iPIPE Receives Chairman's Stewardship Award

At the 2019 Annual Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) Conference, the Intelligent Pipeline Integrity Program (iPIPE) received the Chairman’s Stewardship Award for Environmental Partnership.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, 2019 IOGCC Chairman, presented the stewardship award to iPIPE at this year’s conference.

“By harnessing the power of technology and public–private partnerships, iPIPE is making great strides toward solutions to the problem of pipeline leaks or spills within the gathering system in our state,” said Governor Burgum, who also chairs the North Dakota Industrial Commission. “We appreciate IOGCC members for recognizing the efforts made by industry and the Industrial Commission to address this important issue through innovation, and congratulations to all of the program partners.”

Since its inception in 1935, the IOGCC has voiced the need for sound oil and natural gas environmental policy. In 2001, the Commission initiated the annual Chairman's Stewardship Awards, which represent the Commission's highest honor for exemplary efforts in environmental stewardship. The awards recognize achievement and challenge organizations, companies, and individuals nationwide to demonstrate innovation, dedication, and passion for our environment.

IOGCC membership comprises governors of oil and gas-producing states, as well as appointed representatives. Other affiliates include the Dept. of Energy, Dept. of the Interior, EPA, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

“It’s an honor that the efforts of iPIPE received this recognition for innovation, dedication and passion for the environment,” said Brent Lohnes, general manager in North Dakota for Hess Corporation and iPIPE consortium partner. “With our core industry partners, iPIPE has embraced the best of new technologies and is improving the safety of pipeline operations.”

As a consortium program, iPIPE is currently actively directed by nine members and one cost-share partner, including Andeavor, DCP Midstream, Enbridge, Equinor, Goodnight Midstream, Hess Corp., Oasis Midstream Partners, ONEOK, Whiting Petroleum, and the North Dakota Industrial Commission (cost-share partner).

About iPIPE

iPIPE is an industry-led consortium whose focus is to contribute to the advancement of near-commercial, emerging technologies to prevent and detect gathering pipeline leaks. The program is a direct response to North Dakota Governor Burgum’s May 2017 challenge to industry to think outside the box and apply new technology to address the challenge of eliminating pipeline leaks. Early success of iPIPE has resulted in three new program members since its founding, increased awareness resulting in new emerging technologies coming forth, and enhanced communication about advances made in pipeline safety. We anticipate that many of the technologies advanced through this program will have applications in other pipeline sectors as well. This unique program is currently funding approximately $4 million in development and demonstration activities over the course of almost 4 years. As additional pipeline operators join the program as members, additional funding will be applied to pursue more technology development efforts.

For more information, contact:
Nikki Massmann, EERC

EERC Welcomes Tyler Clark

Tyler Clark has joined the EERC as a Software Developer, where he develops new and improves existing web-based and desktop software solutions for the EERC and its clients. His main areas of interest and expertise are web development, application development, and database programming. He looks forward to designing and creating mobile applications for the Software Solutions Group.

“One thing that interests me the most about my job at the EERC is that there are different kinds of projects that are all happening at once, giving us all something unique to do,” Tyler said, “but the best thing I like about my job here is how friendly and approachable everyone is.” 

Tyler holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science from the University of North Dakota, where he previously worked as a Research Assistant in the development of a web-based geographic information system (GIS) application to help researchers visualize West Nile virus occurrence and trends across North Dakota. 

Tyler gained an early interest in computers and how they work after being introduced to them by his father. As he got older, he took computer-related courses in high school and, eventually, decided to major in Computer Science. 

Tyler is originally from Grand Forks. Outside of work, Tyler is an avid learner, particularly in regard to history and space. “It is important to know our own history, so the same mistakes don’t happen again,” he said. Space intrigues him because there is so much we do not know.

EERC Named Among 50 Best Places to Work

The September issue of Prairie Business names and honors the 50 Best Places to Work in the northern Plains. 

Earlier this year, employees nominated the organizations by submitting anonymous employee-satisfaction surveys, and Prairie Business used the survey results in selecting the 50 Best. The survey sought input on each employer’s benefits, workplace culture and employee morale, among other factors. And employees responded. Prairie Business this year received more than 1,400 nominations from employees from around the region. In 2018, there were approximately 1,300 nominations. 

“Each year, it seems we’re awed by the number of nominations we receive,” Prairie Business Publisher Korrie Wenzel said. “This year, it has happened again. And after reading through the nominations, it is hard not to be impressed by the passionate comments made by so many employees at these great companies.” Prairie Business is proud to present the results of the contest, which now is in its fifth year. 

“It takes so much to be a great place to work. Obviously, it’s more than just pay or vacation time,” Wenzel said. “This year’s winners are good examples of companies that are working hard to make work fulfilling. It’s nice to see that it’s happening in so many places in our region.”

The 50 Best winners will be honored in the magazine, which can be viewed online.

Interested in joining our team? Check out our current job openings

EERC Welcomes Renee Carlson

The EERC is pleased to welcome Renee Carlson, Accounting/Travel Specialist with the Financial Services Team. Renee is responsible for processing accounting transactions, coordinating travel and reimbursements, and reallocating purchasing card transactions.

“I enjoy the customer service aspect of working in the travel office, and the fast-paced environment makes the workday fly by,” Renee said. She says she was drawn to the position because of her previous experience as a travel agent and her work at American Express Corporate Travel in Omaha, Nebraska.

Renee brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of UND to her position at the EERC, having previously worked as the Institutional Review Board Coordinator in the Office of Research at UND for 5 years. She most recently worked as an Administrative Secretary in UND’s Chemistry Department.

“The people at the EERC have been so friendly and welcoming. Everyone has been so helpful, and I feel like I am part of a team here,” said Renee.

Renee has a bachelor’s degree in Law & Justice from Trenton State College in Ewing, New Jersey, where she was born and raised. She moved to the Midwest after college and has lived in North Dakota and Minnesota. She and her family moved back to the Grand Forks area in 2017.

Renee has two boys, ages 13 and 7, with her husband, a health care administrator. They enjoy watching the boys play baseball in the summer and basketball in the winter. As a family, they like watching movies together and taking their boat out to the Otter Tail area when they have a free weekend. To make the long winters more bearable, the family goes snowmobiling and ice fishing on “warmer” winter days. Renee also enjoys golfing, attending Fighting Hawk football and hockey games, and cheering on the Twins and Vikings.

State Energy Research Center at EERC Hosts Collaboration Meeting

SERC Director Tom Erickson leads a group tour of the EERC's Technology Demonstration area.
Leaders from university campuses throughout North Dakota gathered to discuss collaboration efforts around energy education. The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) hosted the event as part of its work as the newly designated State Energy Research Center of North Dakota (SERC).

Attendees discussed the energy industry’s contribution to the economy of North Dakota and how each campus incorporates energy and environmental education into its curricula. The group, consisting of representatives from Minot State University, the University of Jamestown, Dickinson State University, the University of North Dakota, Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College, Williston State College, Valley City State University, and North Dakota State University, discussed current and future needs in regard to energy education and what could be accomplished through collaboration and SERC funding.

“By working together and sharing outreach and educational resources, we can better serve North Dakota and our citizens,” said Tom Erickson, SERC Director.

The group will continue discussions and plan projects to enhance energy education in North Dakota. For more information, contact Tom Erickson.


EERC Welcomes Xue Yu

Dr. Xue Yu has joined the EERC as a Reservoir Analytics Scientist. Xue works with a multidisciplinary team of EERC scientists and engineers to lead development of advanced analytics that incorporate leading-edge concepts, strategies, and data applications that improve the performance of CO2 enhanced oil recovery, CO2 storage, and unconventional hydrocarbon recovery projects.

“I’m very proud to be part of the EERC. It is a leader in energy and environmental technologies, and I really like that the EERC cares about and values its people as the strength on which to build its continued success,” Xue said.

His principal areas of interest and expertise include multidisciplinary project work that encompasses geology, hydrogeology, environmental research, and sociodemographic studies using tools such as machine learning, business analytics, geospatial analysis, and time series analysis.

“I was drawn to reservoir analytics because it allows me to thrive. It gives me the opportunity to use my knowledge and abilities in data science and machine learning as well as my multidisciplinary research experience, all while working in the challenging and rewarding field of energy and the environment,” Xue said.

Xue holds a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Syracuse University, a Masters of Science in Business Analytics from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, and a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Engineering from Yangtze University, Hubei, China. He previously worked for Carlson Analytics Lab in the Twin Cities.

Xue is originally from Hubei, China, famously known as the province of a thousand lakes. Xue’s wife, Xiaoli Guo, is an Assistant Professor for UND Accounting. Their son, who already loves science, will start 3rd grade this fall. They enjoy going out to eat, traveling to new places, watching movies at the cinema, and playing board games.

An avid reader, Xue likes reading fiction and classic literature from China and the world. Xue also enjoys soccer, boxing, and working out at the gym.

Gorecki Selected to Lead EERC

On July 9, Charles Gorecki was named CEO of the EERC by University of North Dakota Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Thomas DiLorenzo. Read the full article at UND Today.

The announcement was made as former CEO Tom Erickson announced June 11 that he would be stepping down from his role as CEO of the EERC and will transition into a new role to head up the newly established State Energy Research Center.

EERC Welcomes John Oleksik

John Oleksik has joined the EERC as a Research Engineer in the Advanced Energy Systems Group. John contributes to the development and testing of new technologies through conceptualization, design, logistical planning, system construction, system commissioning and operation, data reduction, and troubleshooting. 

“I love the learning that happens every day. The staff at the EERC are experts in so many different areas, and I find that every day I can come home with a new bit of information. Sometimes it’s a nuance to a system I’m working on or a project I’m interested in. Other times it can be about brewing beer,” says John, who adds that not a day goes by that the people he works with don’t shed some new light on the work he’s doing and on interesting topics in general. 

John holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Petroleum Engineering and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Economics from the University of North Dakota. 

“I’m always excited by what’s been done here and what direction we might be going in the future. I like that I’m always doing something different,” John says. “With the variety, each change presents new challenges. The biggest thing that drew me to engineering is the opportunity to work through problems. Problem solving is great in that some of the greatest frustrations lead to the greatest satisfaction when an issue is addressed.” 

John’s parents emigrated from Poland to Williston, North Dakota, where John grew up. He is “somewhat fluent” in Polish, loves Polish cooking, and has traveled to Poland five times.
“My Polish heritage is something I’ve taken more pride and interest in the older I get,” he says.
John is married to Jasmine Oleksik, also a Research Engineer at the EERC. Their No. 1 hobby is traveling—whether it be a day trip, weekend away, or long vacations. They love spending time outdoors, skiing, hiking, camping, but John says they also love to explore new cities, breweries, and enjoy shows, concerts, and sporting events. They also like to cook and spend time with friends.

EERC Welcomes Santosh Patil

Santosh Patil has joined the EERC as a Reservoir Engineer, where he works with geoscientists to build geological models and runs dynamic simulations to determine the long-term fate of produced/injected fluids, including hydrocarbons, CO2, and brine.

“The EERC’s research activities provide practical solutions to actual problems that are faced within the oil and gas industry,” said Santosh.

Drawn to the EERC for the research possibilities, he says what he likes most about his job is solving different reservoir engineering problems, especially those specific to unconventional reservoirs and the use of CO2 injection.

Santosh grew up in India and received a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering degree from India. He moved to the United States in 2002 for graduate studies where he received his Masters of Science in Petroleum Engineering and Environmental Engineering from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He is now pursuing his Ph.D. degree in Petroleum Engineering from the University of North Dakota. Prior to joining the EERC, Santosh served as a Reservoir Engineer for BP where he worked on oil and gas fields from Alaska’s North Slope. Mr. Patil is currently working toward acquiring a professional engineer license in the US.

Santosh’s hobbies include watching shows and movies from India, driving/exploring the area, fishing, and bike riding. When asked whether he’s had any unusual adventures, Santosh laughs and says, “I have lived in Alaska—there are some places colder than North Dakota!”

North Dakota Senator Ray Holmberg Receives Energy Champion Award

North Dakota Senator Ray Holmberg
The University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) presented its Energy Champion Award to the Honorable Ray Holmberg, North Dakota State Senator. The presentation and a reception were held at the EERC on June 18. Read the full article at UND Today.

EERC Welcomes John Brunner

John Brunner has joined the EERC as a Research Engineer with the Advanced Energy Systems team. John 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.

“The EERC has a unique and dynamic working environment. Everyday is different and exciting, and I have the chance to work alongside of and learn from veteran and experienced research professionals,” said John.

John is a familiar face around the EERC; he worked here as a student assistant in both Facilities & Safety and the Advanced Energy Systems groups since 2016. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of North Dakota.

“Now, as an employee, I can further work on the projects I was involved with as a student – on a grander scale,” said John. 

Originally from Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, John enjoys hunting and fishing. He is also a car enthusiast. While he was a student, John was a member of and technical lead for the University of North Dakota’s Formula SAE Engine and Drivetrain team for 3 years.  

EERC Welcomes Gloria Rodriguez

The EERC is pleased to welcome Gloria Rodriguez to the Information Technology (IT) Group. As an IT Systems Administrator, Gloria will be assisting the EERC with all aspects of IT, including hardware and software installation and troubleshooting, server administration, documentation and policy development, and enhancing cybersecurity practices and policies. 

“We live in a digital age where the Internet touches almost all aspects of our daily life. Cybersecurity, then, plays an essential role in ensuring the safety of systems that support our daily lives,” said Rodriguez. 

Gloria previously worked at the EERC as a student assistant in the IT Group and for UND’s Information Technology department. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Information Systems and a minor in Geography. She is currently working on her Master’s of Science in Cybersecurity at UND. “By getting my master’s in Cybersecurity, I am intending to apply the knowledge acquired to educate others and to work mitigating the challenges we constantly face,” said Gloria. 

“The culture at the EERC is fun and welcoming; I’m glad to be back,” said Rodriguez. “There are so many good people to learn from here.” 

Originally from MedellĂ­n, Colombia, Gloria moved to the United States in 2001. She has three children, with her oldest also at UND studying political science and international studies. In her free time, Gloria enjoys cooking, making jewelry, oil painting, and yoga. She is passionate about the inclusion of women in the cybersecurity profession and is a member of the Women in Cybersecurity organization and Grand Forks Linux User Group. She is also an active volunteer in the community, volunteering at the Empire Theater and the North Valley Youth Orchestra.

EERC's Tom Erickson Receives UND President's Medal

Energy & Environmental Research Center CEO Tom Erickson on Monday became the 34th person to receive the UND President’s Medal when University President Mark Kennedy made the surprise presentation before employees at the Center. Read the full article at UND Today

EERC Established as the Energy Research Center of North Dakota

North Dakota Senate Bill 2249 was approved by the state House of Representatives over this past legislative session, providing $5 million over the next two years to establish the Energy & Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota (EERC) as the state's energy research center.

The Energy Research Center of North Dakota at the EERC will focus on emerging topics critical to the state’s energy industry and environmental challenges, such as flaring reduction, pipeline safety, efficient lignite use, and increasing oil recovery while decreasing environmental impacts.

“This is an investment in North Dakota’s future,” said Tom Erickson, EERC CEO. “The world is changing quickly, and with those changes come monumental challenges. North Dakota has the opportunity to pioneer energy research that addresses those challenges and keep our state on the forefront of innovation.”

The Energy Research Center of North Dakota will concentrate on precommercial research to complement existing state programs and ensure North Dakota’s energy resources and products remain accessible, affordable, environmentally responsible, and clearly understood through education and outreach.

Questions can be directed to:

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

4th Annual "Energizing North Dakota" Partnership Summit

The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) hosted its 4th Annual “Energizing North Dakota” Partnership Summit May 21. This event serves as a forum for partners across energy industry sectors to discuss critical energy topics relating to North Dakota. The morning kicked off with North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness welcoming over 100 attendees, representing public utilities, private industry, government entities, and energy research experts.

The future of energy and the global connection was the overarching theme of discussions throughout the day. Keynote speaker Charles McConnell, Executive Director, Carbon Management and Energy Sustainability at the University of Houston, discussed the low-carbon future and reality of transitioning to that future.

“The market is asking for low-carbon energy, not only the government,” said McConnell. “As companies continue to drive innovation, future barrels of oil will be based not only on costs at the wellhead but also its lifespan, its carbon footprint, and the environmental responsibility of the operating companies.”

North Dakota Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford highlighted both energy’s vital role in the state’s economy and the state’s commitment to environmental stewardship and innovation through EERC-led projects such as iPIPE.

Paul Sukut, CEO of Basin Electric Power Cooperative, outlined the changing capacity portfolio of utility providers and the need for an all-of-the-above approach to meeting electricity demands. Brian Kroshus, Chairman of the North Dakota Public Service Commission, discussed meeting future energy needs and the importance of public perception regarding the energy industry.

A multidisciplinary discussion panel focused on the energy industry in 2030, specifically on society’s speed-of-change expectation versus the reality of balancing that change without putting excessive costs to customers or hindering economic growth. EERC Vice President for Strategic Partnerships John Harju moderated the panel of experts, which included Ron Ness, President of the North Dakota Petroleum Council; Jason Bohrer, President and CEO of the Lignite Energy Council; and Bill Sawyer, General Manager of Operations at ALLETE Clean Energy.

Charles Gorecki, Director of Subsurface Research & Development, outlined progress made toward advancing the goals developed during the 2017 Partnership Summit for North Dakota’s energy future. These goals include increasing the state’s daily oil production, eliminating pipeline leaks, capitalizing on the state’s synergies between agriculture and energy, maximizing the use of North Dakota natural gas and energy export opportunities, enhancing energy reliability and energy infrastructure, expanding the uses of lignite coal such as for enhanced oil recovery and the extraction of rare earth elements, and educating the world on energy and environmental topics. Gorecki also discussed ways to keep North Dakota and the United States a global energy leader through exploratory research on developing technologies, on which the EERC is able to focus some of its future efforts, thanks to the creation of the North Dakota State Energy Research Center in this recent 2019 legislative session.

“We are indebted to all of you in the room today for your support and faith in us,” said Gorecki as he addressed the attendees in the room. “We couldn’t be more humbled by the support given to us by the passing of SB 2249.”

“We have not only the opportunity but also the obligation to the citizens of North Dakota to adapt and prepare for the future,” said EERC CEO Tom Erickson. “Venues like this are important to enable collaboration on those opportunities.”