Barr project work offers challenges as well as opportunities for learning and growth
working at Barr

contact information for our corporate headquarters:

Barr Engineering Company
4300 MarketPointe Drive, Suite 200
Minneapolis, MN 55435

Phone: 952-832-2600

Fax: 952-832-2601
Toll free: 800-632-BARR (2277)
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challenging locations

Looking for opportunities to learn and grow professionally? We work on some of the most complex and interesting environmental and engineering projects around.

studying atmospheric drying of oil sands tailings

Barr is working with oil-sands clients in western Canada on ways to use atmospheric drying to strengthen fine tailings for reclamation and to reduce air emissions. Tailings are the sediments remaining after crude bitumen is removed, and oil sands mining generates a significant quantity of these. The strengthening process has been likened to turning something the consistency of yogurt into something strong enough to plant a forest on.

Our work has included evaluating dewatering rates and strength gain for atmospheric-drying test methods and comparing the resulting emissions to those from traditional tailings-pond operations. Using this data, we’ve assessed the effectiveness of atmospheric drying and modeled emissions-generation rates and dispersion. We recently presented our findings at an international oil sands conference.

While conducting a geotechnical investigation at the Casselman wind-power project site in Pennsylvania, we discovered mine spoils (loose rocks and soil excavated during coal mining) beneath eight proposed turbine locations. Mine spoils are prone to subsidence and can be geologically erratic, seemingly unsuitable for top-heavy structures like wind-power turbines that need very stable foundations.

Charged with developing an engineering solution to address the risks posed by mine spoils, we developed a wind-turbine foundation design that incorporates 24 micropiles extending through the spoils and anchoring in bedrock 100 feet underground for each foundation.

The Casselman wind-power project is on line, and what was once considered an unusable tract of land is generating enough power for 10,000 homes. We've used similar foundations successfully at other wind-power sites where there are mine spoils.

Barr has assisted Cooperative Minerals Resources in northern Minnesota with environmental permitting, engineering, and community outreach for testing a new technology to mine the largest known high-grade deposit of manganese in North America. The borehole mining process uses a water-injection technique that requires no chemicals or major excavation to recover the mineral, which is used to make batteries and strengthen steel.

For the feasibility trial that precedes commercial-scale mine development, we installed a state-of-the art robotic survey station to monitor surface subsidence and a second system to monitor movement or caving underground. The equipment collects data and sends that to project  websites that we can monitor remotely. The system can also trigger remote and onsite alerts if significant movement is detected. In addition, we visit the site biweekly to check the manually-read instruments. Our geotechnical subsidence monitoring will continue for about a year after operations at the site stop.

Maplewood Mall parking lot viewed from a rainwater garden

With acres of impervious parking lots and roads, Maplewood Mall was a perfect candidate for a stormwater-management system overhaul. Working with the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District, the City of Maplewood’s staff and the mall’s owner, Barr designed a system that reduces phosphorus runoff to a local lake by 60 t0 80 percent while meeting regulatory, technical, and aesthetic challenges.

The final design incorporated above- and below-ground treatment facilities and storage for stormwater reuse, with care taken to maximize available parking space. Engineered soils and subsurface irrigation allow plantings to thrive even in challenging parking-lot conditions. Barr’s design also introduces public art and gathering spaces in addition to providing community environmental education. Mall owners are excited about the public-relations benefits of the transformation and the opportunity to draw new tenants and shoppers.