EERC partnering to improve assessment of carbon dioxide storage capacity

The UND Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) is working with the Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and Hitachi High Technologies America, Inc., to improve assessment methods for estimating the storage capacity of carbon dioxide (CO2) in tight shale formations, such as the Bakken. The project is funded by NETL with cost share provided by Hitachi.

“Although significant progress has been made globally to investigate the suitability of subsurface geologic sinks for CO2 storage, there is a lack of detailed geologic and petrophysical data needed to develop better techniques for assessing CO2 storage resources within unconventional formations,” said Bethany Kurz, EERC Principal Hydrogeologist, Laboratory Analysis Group Lead. Read more

EERC and Ethanol Producer will Assess Expansion of Ethanol Production and Carbon Capture

North Dakota ethanol producer Red Trail Energy, LLC (RTE), and the UND Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC), a worldwide leader in the development of solutions to energy and environmental challenges, have been awarded $490,000 by the North Dakota Industrial Commission’s Renewable Energy Program in support of a study examining the integration of carbon capture and storage (CCS) at a North Dakota ethanol facility to reduce the carbon footprint associated with ethanol production.

“Using CCS to reduce the carbon intensity (CI) of North Dakota ethanol demonstrates the commitment of the industry to environmental stewardship as well as contributes to the long-term sustainability of ethanol production in the state,” said Gerald Bachmeier, RTE Chief Executive Officer. “CCS may be an economical option for reducing the CI of ethanol to qualify for market incentives by meeting low-carbon fuel programs in other states,” he said.

The study will determine the technical and economic parameters of installing and operating a commercial CCS system at RTE’s ethanol manufacturing facility near Richardton, N.D. The facility produces approximately 63 MMgal of ethanol annually. Read more

Floating Fascination: ‘Islands’ on the Coulee Filter Runoff

UND biology major Rachel Thorstenson observed three years ago the English Coulee needed help. Too many nutrients equaled big algae blooms—and the bacteria that feasted on algae. Result: messy look, unpleasant odors.

Floating Islands 1

The Plymouth, Minn., native then took a course—co-presented by Phil Gerla, Geology & Geological Engineering, and Nick Ralston, UND Energy & Environmental Research Center—that focused on the coulee and inspired her to take action. Among the potential remediation ideas she found: floating islands filled with soil and native plants to clean the water. Read more

Study: Bakken at Night isn’t that Bright

Millions have seen the satellite images from space in publications such as National Geographic and circulated on the Internet which purportedly show gas flaring in the Bakken making the night sky glow more brightly than large metropolitan areas.

However, a study conducted by the University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center and the school’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences concluded that the photos create a misleading public perception. Read more

UND Research Reveals More Information about Satellite Images of Bakken Flares

Researchers from the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) and the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences’ Department of Earth System Science & Policy have announced the findings of a recent report conducted to take a closer look at satellite images of associated gas (i.e., flaring) in the North Dakota Bakken Formation.

“Satellite images featured in publications such as National Geographic show the night sky in sparsely populated areas of western North Dakota looking more like the bright lights of large metropolitan areas such as New York City, Boston, or Chicago,” said Chris Zygarlicke, EERC Deputy Associate Director for Research. “Many published images in the media tout new types of satellite imaging used to examine gas flares but rarely explain how the images are derived.” Read more