Hoeven: Energy & Environmental Research Center Wins $25,000 Award in GE and Statoil Joint Competition

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, who serves on the U.S. Senate Energy Committee, today announced that University of North Dakota’s (UND) Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) has won a $25,000 award in the General Electric (GE) and Statoil joint competition for unconventional energy innovations. The EERC was one of five winners in the companies’ inaugural Open Innovations Challenge focused on addressing the use of sand in unconventional operations.

“Once again, the innovative work being done by the EERC on the UND campus has won the support of major energy concerns,” Hoeven said. “This, and the work they are doing in Carbon Capture and Sequestration technology, as well as other areas, is helping to produce more energy with better environmental stewardship for our country.”

Sand and water are two of the most transported products used in hydraulic fracturing. The challenge was to reduce the weight of the sand product used in the process and therefore reduce the number of truck trips necessary to transport it. The EERC answered the challenge by developing a lightweight, locally sourced ore that is 40 percent lighter than the product currently being used.

The award makes the EERC eligible for additional funding from an available discretionary prize pool of $375,000 for potential development or commercialization.

In May, Hoeven announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) had entered into a two-year Cooperative Agreement with the EERC to conduct research and develop technologies to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels. The collaboration is funded through the Office of Fossil Energy and administered by the National Energy Technology Laboratory. 

Last summer, the senator arranged a meeting between Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, EERC Director Tom Erickson and Associate Director for Research John Harju to request the Collaborative Agreement, which the DOE announced in May.