A fix for dusty roads

FARGO A team at North Dakota State University is looking over proposals from NDSU researchers to develop solutions focused on road dust issues stemming from oil and gas development in the Bakken region in the western part of the state, according to a press release.

Some $350,000 is available in research funding for NDSU researchers, who had until July 21 to apply for the program. Awards will be given beginning in early September. Grants will range from up to $15,000 for individual research projects to $60,000 for multidisciplinary teams of researchers. Initial applications for funding represent research spread across many disciplines at NDSU, including: soil science, animal science, natural resource management, engineering, transportation, pharmaceutical science, geosciences, computer science, plant science, sociology, and others.

The grant criteria requires that the research must “quantify and/or qualify road dust emissions; evaluate agricultural health impacts (crops, livestock, and rangeland) from road dust; evaluate ecological impacts from road dust; and develop techniques or technologies to control road dust emissions.”

“Economic successes of the area have led to increased traffic and associated road dust that have created impacts that are not yet fully known. The research funded under NDSU’s Road Dust Program will help quantify and qualify impacts and create solutions to help alleviate dust issues,” said NDSU President Dean Bresciani in a press release. “As a land-grant institution, we strive to engage in activities such as this one to benefit the state and its citizens. Such research programs also present opportunities for students who can see the impact that they can make by being involved in research, using their skills in real world applications that can ultimately benefit communities.”

NDSU faculty and student researchers have been involved in other studies in the western part of the state. Researchers at NDSU have evaluated workforce characteristics in the Bakken, assisted cities with population projections to plan for the future, and compiled data on jobs and investment. Faculty also conduct research to assist law enforcement and community leaders as they work to match enforcement needs to population changes in western North Dakota.

Other NDSU scientists analyze North Dakota clay samples to determine composition and suitability for processes used in oil extraction. Additional scientists offer expertise in sensors that can monitor equipment and provide expertise in corrosion that can lead to pipeline degradation. NDSU representatives, including the Extension Service, are among those participating to find answers to challenges of an economic boom. NDSU faculty researchers in natural resources are evaluating native grassland reclamation methods to reestablish native vegetation and restore landscape in partnership with a pipeline company. Additional NDSU researchers will be studying groundwater in the Bakken region.

“Land grant universities and our research partners can play integral roles in solving 21st century challenges in the state we serve,” said Bresciani, in the press release.