Research@Mines Archive:
August, 2023

South Dakota Mines Researchers Use Lab Experiments to Show Volcanic Activity on Mars

Alexander Rogaski, who completed his master’s degree at South Dakota Mines in geology, is shown here working in the lab that created a model of a fumarole under the surface of Mars.

Gokce K Ustunisik, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering at South Dakota Mines, and Alexander Rogaski, who completed his master’s degree at Mines under Ustunisik, have produced minerals found on Mars by experimentally mimicking the conditions in Martian fumaroles, or vents found in areas of volcanic activity.

Their work, published in the journal of Meteoritics and Planetary Science, indicates ongoing volcanism on the red planet. Scientists only recently discovered that Mars may have areas of active volcanos. “Both ...

Last Edited 8/29/2023 02:46:40 PM [Comments (0)]

South Dakota Mines Creates New Center for Sustainable Solutions

Sadie Tornberg, who is completing her masters in atmospheric and environmental sciences at South Dakota Mines, spent part of her summer in the backcountry of Montana and Idaho studying water quality on the Kootenai River. Research like this is one example of many that fall under the new Center for Sustainable Solutions at Mines.

South Dakota Mines has created a new multidisciplinary Center for Sustainable Solutions. The center will be a hub for research and development around sustainability including water quality, emerging contaminants, agriculture, infrastructure, carbon capture, biofuels, bioplastics, environmental stewardship and more.

“As society faces increasingly complex problems, providing sustainable solutions requires integrative partnerships and approaches that build convergence of many disciplines with research and support for stakeholders at all levels,” says Lisa Kunza, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, Biology and Health Sciences and the director of the new center at Mines.

In the last five years leading up to establishing the Center for Sustainable Solutions, there have been nearly 50 faculty and researchers from eight departments on campus participating in the efforts. “As an institution of higher education, it is imperative to have many graduate and undergraduate students trained in the collaborative environment that the Center for Sustainable Solutions provides while tying the innovative efforts to support the needs of the people,” says Kunza.

The center will help serve the needs of a wide range of partners, from assisting the Department of Defense (DoD) in mitigating emerging ...

Last Edited 8/29/2023 08:57:58 PM [Comments (0)]

New Studies Show Wildfire Smoke Could be a Stumbling Block for Solar Energy Generation

Dr. Long Zhao and his graduate student, Amjad Ali, are shown here on the campus of South Dakota Mines during their research examining the impact of wildfire smoke on solar energy generation.

Wildfire smoke may have a significant impact on the efficiency of solar panels and the overall effort to transition nation’s energy production from fossil fuels to more solar based systems, according to research published by Long Zhao, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at South Dakota Mines and director of the Smart Grid and Energy Research Lab at South Dakota Mines.

Zhao’s work, conducted over the last two years when wildfire smoke blanketed parts of the American West, shows that widespread smoke can reduce the output of individual solar panels by nearly 50% -- even on days when smoke is present at high altitudes and air quality near the ground is not significantly impacted.

“It depends on where you are,” says Zhao. It makes sense that solar energy production is negatively impacted on very smoky days, but Zhao’s team was surprised to see reductions in solar energy output when wildfire smoke was aloft higher in atmosphere. “This makes it harder to quantify days when smoke will impact solar energy production based on air quality monitoring systems we have in place,” he says.  His work will be published in the Journal IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications.

Unlike passing clouds, that can reduce solar energy generation for a short duration, wildfire smoke can...

Last Edited 8/22/2023 02:20:54 PM [Comments (0)]

ERDC researchers support the USA Luge team in quest for Olympic Gold

Dr. Austin Lines, a mechanical research engineer and ice friction researcher at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), slides down a luge track during an ice friction workshop held by USA Luge in Park City, Utah. Austin and Dr. Emily Asenath-Smith, lead of the Ice Adhesion Facility at CRREL, were invited to be a part of an interdisciplinary research and development team to develop approaches that decrease ice friction and increase speed for the luge team. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo)

Sliding on ice at speeds exceeding 90 mph is terrifying for most people, but the USA Luge team is seeking assistance from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) along with academic and industry leaders to go even faster.

In the sport’s rule book, luge is afforded a great deal of engineering leeway to customize their sleds and runners. They have their own team of technicians to manufacture the sleds, and athletes routinely engage in the design/build process making luge not only a competition of technique but also one of technology.

It’s all about moving fast on ice, and as such, the team reached out to Dr. Emily Asenath-Smith, lead of the Ice Adhesion Facility at ERDC’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL).

“We first started discussions about high-speed ice friction research about six years ago,” said Asenath-Smith. “Ice adhesion and ice friction are both interface phenomena. They are essentially ice interacting with materials, and they are very related research areas."

“CRREL has worked in this space for a number of years,” she added. “The Army cares a lot about ice friction whether they are pulling sleds in cold regions or driving vehicles across frozen ground.”

Unfortunately, when USA Luge first contacted Asenath-Smith, there wasn’t enough time to develop a productive collaboration.

“They were getting ready for the 20...

Last Edited 8/29/2023 08:58:35 PM [Comments (0)]

Mines Professor Wins NSF Grant to Study Consumer Behavior Patterns for Next-Generation Smart Grid

Dr. Long Zhao, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and the director of the Smart Grid and Energy Research Lab at Mines, is working on new ways to incorporate human behavior patterns into the design of next generation energy grids.

The development of a “smart grid” is a hot topic in the energy industry. The basic idea is that modern technologies can assist in routing electricity efficiently and economically from the power being generated to the areas where it’s in demand. Smart grids enable power from multiple sources, such as wind farms, rooftop solar panels, hydroelectric dams and large coal-fired power plants. A part of the smart grid is a little like a set of traffic signals that help move power where and when it’s needed; more power can be generated and distributed when demand is high and electricity flow can be reduced or sent into next-generation storage devices when demand is low.

Long Zhao, Ph.D., assistant professor of electrical engineering and the director of the Smart Grid and Energy Research Lab at Mines, says there is a great deal of effort underway right now to build the technology and infrastructure needed to run smart grids, but he says one thing is missing from current research. “We need to study the human factor. The most important part of the equation is people, and we are trying to understand human behavior to help build the most robust and fully functional smart grid models,” Zhao says.

The National Science Foundation is funding Zhao’s research with a grant totaling $198,740.00 over the next two years.. The research will analyz...

Last Edited 8/1/2023 03:45:41 PM [Comments (0)]

Research Inquiries

For inquiries related to South Dakota Mines Research, contact:

Research Affairs

South Dakota Mines
501 E. St. Joseph Street
Vanderboom Laboratory for Entrepreneurial Research (V-LAB)
Rapid City, SD  57701

(605) 394-2493