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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 https://www.projecttundrand.com/.


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.