“We do not do fundamental research,” says Gerald Groenewold, EERC director. “Every program and every contract is derived with the intent of answering critical questions and/or developing technology that has economical, practical applications.”
Some of the center’s current commercial projects are:
Renewable Jet and Diesel Fuel. Made from crop oils, the fuels are 100 percent renewable. They are essentially identical to their petroleum-derived counterparts, providing a pathway to energy security.
Mercury Control. The EERC and RLP Energy Inc., Grand Forks, are working to provide customized mercury control solutions to electric utilities. Mercury control is one of the major global challenges associated with the development of clean coal technologies.
Hydrogen On-Demand Fueling System. The EERC has developed a high-pressure hydrogen production process for converting liquid fuels, such as ethanol, methanol and gasoline, to hydrogen. Using this process, the significant infrastructure costs of nationwide hydrogen production, transportation and storage will be greatly reduced or eliminated so that hydrogen refueling can be accessible and affordable. The first demonstration of this technology is tentatively planned for Grand Forks next year.
Fertilizer Production. With dramatic increases in fertilizer prices, dependence on imports and logistical costs, the EERC is developing alternative domestic supplies for fertilizer production in conjunction with other organizations. They are advancing a technology to produce fertilizer with a proprietary and significantly lower-cost concept of using coal or biomass instead of natural gas. The first commercial demonstration is planned for 2010 in North Dakota.
- Distributed Biomass Energy Systems. Many agricultural and other biomass residues have a high energy value, but this value is lost as residues are transported off-site at a disposal cost. The EERC is working with a cogeneration company to commercialize an EERC-developed system to produce electricity from scrap railroad ties. This same technology can be applied to many biomass feedstocks, such as agricultural residues and wood wastes that have a very large global market. As local communities, corporations and farmers seek to lower operation costs, utilization of biomass residues provides an economically attractive solution for producing on-site heat and power. The first commercial demonstration of this technology is planned for late 2009 in British Columbia.