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Student Involvement

Students at the University of Minnesota, Morris are actively engaged in several aspects of the renewable and sustainable initiatives taking place in Morris. The drive of a very dedicated and passionate student body enhances UMM's status as a national leader in sustainable campus initiatives.

More information about UMM's Green Campus Initiatives (external link)

UMM Green Campus Fact Sheet, May 2008 (PDF, 205K)

Student Research

Biomass Student Research

Summer 2014

Alex Gensch (Minneapolis, MN) is an Environmental Science Major at the University of Minnesota Morris. He is a research and communication intern researching energy use in agriculture. The specific focus of his internship is on how a dependence on fossil energy affects the sustainability of cropping systems and swine production. He is producing videos and handout media to inform the general public of energy use in general and research and work being done at the West Central Research and Outreach Center. This research will educate the general public, spread information about the WCROC, and help to raise more support for our work and sustainable agriculture.

Emily Moore (Isanti, MN) is a Physics and Environmental Science double major at the University of Minnesota, Morris. She is researching energy use in dairy systems and opportunities to decrease this energy use to educate and communicate with the general public with the use of handouts and videos. Additionally, she created a handout template for the Research Center to maintain a consistent look for their handouts.

Summer 2010

Ben Cole researched Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) programs as well as a super-SCADA system that could control multiple facilities.  He was interested in system efficiency, and optimization, as well as looking at models that are currently being used, and their effectiveness.

Ben Schroeder's research looked at the relationship between the feedstock’s moisture content, the operating temperature, and the ash/char byproduct formation in a small scale, cornstover and corncob gasification system.  A Gasifier Experimenter Kit (GEK) was used to gasify corncobs and cornstover to collect data.  He also created a GEK user manual.

Elizabeth Binczik researched the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) established by the Farm Service Agency that promoted the establishment of energy crops and the collection of waste materials for use as Biomass Feedstock.  Financial payments from the program, legislation provisions, and data from Minnesota were also compared to see how well the program was constructed and running.

Mukul Jain reviewed biomass feedstock processing equipment, with a comparison of pelletizing and briquetting.  The most important variable examine for pre-processing was energy needed to produce the final feedstock and identifying how to reduce energy in feedstock processing systems.

Michelle Williams researched soil carbon and how it was affected by different methods of tillage (no-till/minimum till vs. conventional methods.)  She compared soils of Stevens County to other research that had similar soils to find the best method and management practices to sustain soil carbon in Stevens County soils. 

Spring 2008

Toby Simacek (Saint Cloud, MN) is a Biochemistry and Chemistry major at the University of Minnesota, Morris. He assisted in the expansion of the organization system and database of biomass-related research which is used in other biomass-related research efforts.

Summer 2008

Brittany Crocker (Albertville, MN) is an Environmental Studies and Political Science major at the University of Minnesota, Morris. She is researching land use in Stevens county, specifically focusing on using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to help assess the potentially available biomass in Stevens county. Additionally, her work with GIS will assist in determining storage requirements and locations on the UMM campus where an adequate biomass supply can be stored.

Toby Simacek (Saint Cloud, MN) is a Biochemistry and Chemistry major at the University of Minnesota, Morris. He is researching alternative crops for energy and gasification, specifically focusing on growing select C4 grasses and the resulting effects on soil nutrients. This research will enable future growers to maintain soil quality while producing quality feedstocks.

Luke Toso (Falcon Heights, MN) is an Environmental Science major at the University of Minnesota, Morris. He is a biomass economics intern researching the economics of the biomass gasification plant and its affects on Stevens County. More specifically, he is researching the possibilities of carbon credits and effects of carbon sequestration on Stevens County. This research will assist farmers in deciding to use marginal land for the production of biomass and the potential benefits and side effects it may have.

Daron Zych (Graceville, MN) is a Physics major at the University of Minnesota, Morris. He is researching existing biomass feedstocks used for gasification, specifically focusing on the potential of using only corn cobs as a feedstock in comparison to all corn stover (stalks, cobs, etc.). This research will assist with the development of best management practices of collecting adequate amounts of feedstock while reducing the potentially negative impacts of removing feedstock materials from agricultural land.

Spring 2008

Toby Simacek (Saint Cloud, MN) is a Biochemistry and Chemistry major at the University of Minnesota, Morris. He assisted in the expansion of the organization system and database of biomass-related research which is used in other biomass-related research efforts.

Summer 2007

Sara Gulbrandson, Summer 2007, Developed an information packet about biomass energy and conversion technologies targeted towards the general public and those with little background knowledge of biomass energy.  The packets are available upon request.
HANDOUTS

 

Summer 2006

Amanda Decker, Summer 2006,  Began reviewing literature for biomass energy systems with a focus on feedstocks and harvesting of agricultural residues.