Mt. Olive Pickle Research Project Receives Emmy Award

Earlier this year, the Nashville/Midsouth Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences recognized Durham-based storytelling firm StoryDriven and the University of North Carolina’s Research Opportunities Initiative (ROI) for its video “Harvesting Clean Energy” with an Emmy award.

“The competition this year was fierce – there were more than 900 entries from 131 different production companies and television stations across the region – so we were thrilled to receive four nominations and to win one award,” said Nathan Clendenin, founder and CEO of StoryDriven.

Initially, Kevin Campbell, environmental supervisor for Mt. Olive Pickle Company, contacted North Carolina State University (NCSU) about practical ways to beneficially reuse brine and wastewater material. Partnering with researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), NCSU, and East Carolina University (ECU), Mt. Olive helped develop new technologies to create energy by extracting salinity gradients. The multi-university partnership endeavors to harness salinity gradients for electricity generation, energy storage, and wastewater treatment. The Emmy award-winning video, lovingly referred to by its unofficial title, “Pickle Power,” spotlights the incredible work conducted by the universities and Mt. Olive.

“They [Mt. Olive] were looking for unique solutions to handle some of the brine waste they produce,” NCSU researcher Doug Call shared. “To make pickles you need a lot of salt, and a lot of other things like vinegar. Because that’s their main production facility, they make a lot of salt water.”

StoryDriven and UNC won the Emmy award in the Technology category, for stunningly capturing the mutually-beneficial partnership between academia and industry right here in North Carolina. The brine waste created by Mount Olive proves an fascinating learning opportunity for researchers who, in turn, create innovative applications that reach beyond The Tar Heel State.

“UNC ROI, funded by the NC General Assembly, invests in strategically important research projects with the intention of fostering innovation and bringing about new ways of solving complex scientific challenges,” said Dr. Erin Hopper, former Research Director of UNC ROI and currently Associate Chair of the Department of Applied Physical Sciences at UNC. “These projects have the potential to promote economic development and position North Carolina as a leader in strategically important research areas. The video produced by StoryDriven does an excellent job showing how UNC ROI promotes important research that is creative, collaborative and cross disciplinary.”

As the number one pickle brand in the country, Mt. Olive is not only a leader in the world of culinary delights, but also the scientific community. In the late 1960s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Fermentation Lab at NCSU unlocked the secret to controlled fermentation through research conducted at Mt. Olive’s North Carolina facility.

For decades, Mt. Olive has strived to improve its business, and to be a good environmental steward, by engaging the assistance of North Carolina-based university researchers.  Mt. Olive is proud to play a pivotal role in this most recent work conducted by UNC ROI and its research partners.


  1. Anonymous on May 29, 2018 at 9:38 am

    Wow! I had intended to glance at this article to get the gist of the award, but i could not resist reading the whole thing! So proud of Mount Olive Pickles and our excellent area universities for this research project and the potential for quality-of-life-changing results. Bravos to all involved!