Biogas: Our People – Alina Cole, Ph.D, P.E.
September 19, 2023
Next up in our biogas blog series, we’re excited to introduce you to Alina Cole, Ph.D., P.E. (Director of Engineering).
What does a typical day look like for you?
During a typical day, my responsibilities involve overseeing engineering tasks and managing engineering teams across various stages of design for specific projects. One of the most significant projects to date is our ongoing work in Idaho, encompassing around 40,000 cows and six digester tanks. The primary hurdles in each project tend to revolve around manure collection. Every dairy presents unique challenges, often demanding creative and unconventional design solutions. Additionally, collaborating closely with the dairy owner is crucial to devising a system that ensures seamless and convenient interface points.
Describe your experience working on a project on the Biogas team:
I was the Lead Engineer on the Sunoma Renewable Biofuels project, responsible for driving the overall project design forward and coordinating between the engineering disciplines. This included process, mechanical, electrical, civil/earthwork, structural, and instrumentation & controls. I also acted as Lead Process Engineer. As we started construction, I was also the primary liaison with our construction manager in the field, responding to contractor RFIs and periodically on-site as Acting Construction Manager. I also supported the start-up and commissioning efforts, including performing the final Biogas yield test. I reviewed and created operations SOPs, provided operator training for the on-site lab, and provided operations support for a few months after the hand-off to the owner.
My favorite part of the project was seeing the design we created being built and operated. Many engineers in my field only provide IFC drawings, but don’t have the opportunity to see their ideas come to life. This project would not have been very successful if we didn’t have a great team. I am very proud of our achievement and honored to work so closely with so many great people.
Where do you see the future of the Biogas team headed?
I think our team will continue to expand our project and client base and work on a variety of types of projects beyond manure digesters. I expect our team will continue to grow to meet the needs of these projects, and as a leader in Biogas, I am thrilled to help facilitate this team expansion and witness the successful delivery of future projects. We started off with a very small group, and have grown leaps and bounds over the last few years into a great team. There are always struggles, but we make it through stronger than ever and always seek improvements in our designs.
What inspired you to pursue a role in Biogas/RNG and join Montrose?
I pursued degrees in chemical and environmental engineering with the goal of helping the environment in some way through science and engineering. As I progressed through my earlier career, I realized that waste-to-energy projects such as this fit all my criteria. When the opportunity to join Montrose came to me, I realized this was going to be a great fit for my career goals. I feel this is a great use of my education and experience, and it’s a wonderful feeling to know that my work product is directly helping the environment and creating a better world for the future.
Alina Cole, P.E.
Lead Project Engineering
Alina Cole, P.E., joined the Biogas team in 2018 as a Lead Project Engineering and served as a Senior Process Engineer before becoming the Director of Engineering for Biogas in June 2023. She holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University and a Ph.D. in Civil/Environmental Engineering from the University of Minnesota. She is a Licensed Professional Engineer in Minnesota and Kansas.