Research Inquiries

For inquiries related to SD Mines Research, contact:

Research Affairs

S.D. School of Mines & Technology
501 E. St. Joseph Street
Suite 102, O'Harra Building
Rapid City, SD  57701

(605) 394-2493

Research@Mines

Research@Mines

Research at Mines happens every day of the year, involves faculty and students at every academic level, and frequently includes collaboration across the state, the nation and the globe.

Nanopareil: Where Tiny Fibers Reap Huge Rewards

Dr. Todd Menkhaus, a professor of biological and chemical engineering at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, is one of the researchers to develop the Nanopareil technology. Nanopareil produces a material used to filter out impurities in such industries as pharmaceuticals, reducing costs and speeding up the process significantly.

The technology at the heart of Nanopareil revolves around nanofibers a thousand times smaller than a human hair, but its potential impact on the pharmaceutical industry could be massive.

“The pharmaceutical industry really needs this technology,” says Todd Menkhaus, PhD, a professor of biological and chemical engineering at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and one of the researchers to develop the Nanopareil technology. “We developed this technology specifically to lower the costs of purifying lifesaving vaccines and medications so that they would be more accessible and more economical around the globe.”

Nanopareil LLC got its start on the SD Mines campus in 2008 when Menkhaus and Hao Fong, PhD, a professor in chemistry, biology, and health sciences, began collaborating on research into nanofibers and separations. They quickly found some pretty exciting results. By spraying or “electro spinning” polymer nanofibers into multiple layers, Fong and Menkhaus created sheets of a filter or sponge-like material. In its initial state, the material feels almost spongy to the touch. After final preparation, however, the sheet material feels and looks much like simple white paper.  

Fong and Menkhaus discovered that when the material is used as a filter, it works as a sponge and collects or traps the targeted materials while allowing the inactive ingredients to flow through. Used in a pharmaceutical setting, ...

Last Edited 12/3/2019 02:37:21 PM [Comments (0)]

SD Mines Researchers Pioneer New Methods to Turn Biorefinery Waste into Valuable Products

Vinod Amar, Ph.D., one of the research scientists working on the project is shown here in his lab.

Shende Research Team 2A research team at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is beginning work on pilot scale testing of new methods that turn biorefinery waste into valuable products. The waste biomass or byproducts generated by ethanol plants and other biorefineries, such as corn stover, are normally thrown away—but finding cost-effective means of using this waste to make new products will generate extra revenue for the facilities, help lower fuel costs, reduce carbon emissions, and ultimately help farmers.

“This is one more way SD Mines is pioneering research that helps the environment while increasing efficiency and profit margins for our industry partners.  This is the kind of work that can have a positive impact on the economy of South Dakota,” says SD Mines Vice President of Research Ralph Davis, Ph.D.

Rajesh Shende, Ph.D., professor in the chemical and biological engineering department at SD Mines, is leading the research. This work began in Shende’s lab with a $2.16 million grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Offi...

Last Edited 11/26/2019 03:30:38 PM [Comments (0)]

Mines researchers explore killing cancer with cold plasma

Kristen Haller, a mechanical engineering major at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology with plans to go to medical school after graduation in December 2019, and Jordan Hoops, a chemical and biological engineering PhD student, demonstrate the cold plasma technology.

While using cold plasma to kill cancer cells isn’t an entirely novel concept, a team of researchers and students at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology are exploring new ways to regulate cold plasma technology to target and kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alive.

If successful, the technique would prove to be a drug-free, minimally invasive cancer treatment that would affect the lives of millions of patients around the world.   

Plasma is ionized gas – an energetic state of matter where some of the electrons in the outer atomic orbitals have become separated from the atom. In other words, it’s a collection of ions and electrons no longer bound to each other. Cold plasma is a partially ionized gas where particles possess much higher energy.

SD Mines assistant professors Prasoon Diwakar, Ph.D., of the mechanical engineering department, and Timothy Brenza, Ph.D., of the chemical and biological engineering department, are overseeing the research with undergraduate mechanical engineering students Kristen Haller and Nicole Miller. Chemical and biological engineering PhD student Jordan Hoops and applied biological sciences undergraduate student Taylor Bright are also contributing to the work. Bright will be continuing the research in this area as an accelerated master’s student in biomedical engineering.

Diwakar began researching cold plasma cance...

Last Edited 10/29/2019 01:21:23 PM [Comments (0)]

Buffalo Bones Return to the Black Hills to be Preserved for Study

Part of a bison skull and other bones after being catalogued and placed in climate-controlled storage at SD Mines.

Between 1993 and 1995, a team of archeologists undertook an excavation of prehistoric animal bones in the Deerfield area of the Black Hills. They found bison, mountain lion, deer, elk and a range of smaller animal bones. Work on the age of the specimens is still underway, but researchers estimate some of the bones date as far back as 8,000 years.

After excavation, the bones were taken to the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, where they stayed for more than 20 years. In 2017, the US Forest Service moved these back to South Dakota, and students in the paleontological resource management class at SD Mines stepped up to help. The students took part in an effort between the US Forest Service, the South Dakota State Historical Society Archaeological Research Center, and the Museum of Geology at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology to curate these specimens.

“A lot of times, in different repositories, this material will just sit and sit for years,” says Mike Hilton, the heritage resources program manager for the Black Hills National Forest. Hilton gives praise to Sally Shelton, the associate director of the Museum of Geology at Mines, and the students in her paleontology resource management class. The students undertook the bulk of t...

Last Edited 10/22/2019 08:18:43 AM [Comments (0)]