CU-Boulder Students Design Dust Control Solutions for Western Oil and Gas Operations

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May 20, 2010

Engineering students at the University of Colorado at Boulder won $30,000 in prize money this spring for designing solutions to the age-old problem of dust control faced by oil and gas developers in western states.

The winning team in the second annual Halliburton Environmental Footprint Challenge compared nine options for dust control on the Roan Plateau, and determined that lignin sulfonate is the most effective, safe and economical treatment to manage dust on unpaved roadways.  Lignin is a waste product of the paper industry and substantially reduces the quantity of water needed for dust control, while having no known toxicity to plants or animals.

Environmental engineering seniors Hannah Cassard, Steven Crisp and Nicole Seminara comprised the winning team, which won $12,000 in scholarship awards for its work.

“The Halliburton Environmental Footprint Challenge provided an excellent opportunity for Steve, Nicki and I to apply what we learned through our engineering courses to a real and very important environmental problem,” said Cassard. “This competition served as a great capstone piece to our environmental engineering degree, and it was rewarding to see Halliburton express such interest in our design. “

The second-place award of $10,000 went to chemical engineering seniors Sarah Hoyt, Pierce Rohde, Rebekah Squires and Jeff Wolz, whose team recommended a combination of road construction with geotextiles and use of a magnesium chloride solution.

The third-place award, worth $8,000, went to a team comprised of both environmental and chemical engineering students, Thomas Ronat, Doug Winter, and Ethan Boor, who focused on a resin-biopolymer dust suppressant.

Six teams entered the year-long design competition, which was aimed at generating possible solutions to the world’s energy and environmental challenges. Prizes were awarded April 26.

The Halliburton Foundation has sponsored the CU-Boulder competition for the last two years.

“The 2010 challenge was another success for CU students and Halliburton,” said Marc Barella, Halliburton operations leader for field engineering and a 2001 CU-Boulder alumnus who served on the team of judges.  

“Not only were the students able to get involved in a real-world problem and present technical and economical solutions, but the top two teams were able to meet with an industry client that has spent a lot of time, effort and money managing dust. Hearing from an industry professional about the solutions they had recommended, which were actually in use and/or tested, really drove home the learning experience.”



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Carol Rowe, 303-492-7426

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