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Dan Palo

Vice President, Senior Process Engineer

Harnessing the sun in the Washington desert
With wife, Jennifer, on the Oregon coast at Haystack Rock
A family outing on Longyear Lake in Chisholm, MN

As a teen, Dan knew that he wanted to pick a career doing something he loved, and since he loved math and science (especially chemistry), chemical engineering was the most compelling choice. Apparently, it was a good choice as Dan’s career has led him down an interesting path to both coasts and back to Minnesota’s Iron Range. For 16 years, Dan worked in research and process development related to fuels, chemicals, and materials in Connecticut, Washington, and Oregon. He has published extensively and currently holds three patents related to fuels and energy, with two more applications pending.

After 16 years away, Dan and his family moved back to their native Minnesota. Dan joined Barr’s Hibbing office in 2011 to share his passion for chemical engineering with our clients. He is actively engaged in mineral, chemical, and biomass processing efforts for various clients, and is currently leading Barr’s growing chemical and mineral processing group.

You can tell Dan is inspired by his work, especially when he talks about the solar-energy-conversion effort in which he led a multi-institutional design team. The system Dan’s team developed captures solar energy using high-temperature chemical reactions operating at the focal point of a solar-dish concentrator. In partnership with a solar-concentrator manufacturer, the team successfully demonstrated a pilot system in Washington that exhibited efficiencies four to five times that of typical solar cells. The next phase of this work is set for 2013, with partial backing by energy technology investors. The potential applications for power plants, energy storage, and liquid-transportation fuels are exciting.

“Seeing things go from concept to reality is the big payoff,” Dan said about projects both at work and at home. From working road construction during high school and college and building a research institute in Oregon to doing major projects at home, Dan says, “It’s when I can stand back at the end of the day and see what I’ve accomplished that I get a sense of satisfaction from a job well done.” He went on to say, “At home, my wife is the ‘design engineer,’ and I’m more like the construction contractor. We make a great team.”

He also shares his enthusiasm for technology with his four children by homeschooling them in math and science, explaining how things work, and conducting culinary experiments in the kitchen on weekends. They like to make their own butter and yogurt together, and Dan is happy to have recently found and modified a gluten-free pancake recipe that “doesn’t taste like cardboard.” When opportunities arise, Dan enjoys traveling with his wife, Jennifer, or getting out for a good meal and some live music. He and his family also enjoy spending time outside playing, biking, exploring, and fishing on Longyear Lake in Chisholm, Minnesota. During the summer, they can be often be found at Dan’s family cabin on Lake Vermillion, relaxing, boating, nature-watching, visiting with friends and family, and searching for the elusive walleyes.