Research Spotlight: SMU receives $5.25 million for geothermal data project

David Blackwell

Research Spotlight: SMU receives $5.25 million for geothermal data project

Geothermal map of North AmericaThe Geothermal Laboratory at SMU has been awarded $5.25 million by the U.S. Department of Energy to help provide data for the planned National Geothermal Database.

The grant allocation is part of $338 million in Recovery Act funding that was announced Oct. 29 by DOE Secretary Steven Chu. The funding is intended to help dramatically expand geothermal production in the United States.

Principal investigators are SMU’s David Blackwell, Hamilton Professor of Geothermal Studies, and Fabian Moerchen of Siemens Corporate Research. The project team also includes Jefferson Tester, the Kroll Professor of Chemical Engineering at Cornell University; William Gosnold, chair of Geology and Geological Engineering at the University of North Dakota; Seiichi Nagihara, associate professor of geosciences at Texas Tech University; John Veil, manager of the Water Policy Program at the Argonne National Laboratory and Martin Kay, president of MLKay Technology LLC.

“The primary benefit of this project is that it will support developers of geothermal power plants by decreasing the costs of the resource identification and the risks inherent in the exploration phase,” Blackwell said. “The project will rescue important data from deterioration or complete loss and provide a set of tools to be used by other parties to submit data to the NGDS.”

The SMU Geothermal Lab is hosting its annual conference, “Geothermal Energy Utilization Associated with Oil & Gas Development,” Nov. 3-4 on the Dallas campus. Registration is available at the door. Find more information at the conference web site.

Read more from the SMU Research blog

November 3, 2009|Research|

For the Record: Oct. 22, 2009

David Blackwell, Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Dedman College, received the 2009 Joseph W. Aidlin Award at the Geothermal Resources Council (GRC) annual meeting in early October. The GRC, the primary professional educational association for the international geothermal community, gives the Aidlin Award each year for “outstanding contributions to the development of geothermal energy.” Blackwell’s mapping of North American geothermal resources, and his research into using hot wastewater produced from oil and gas wells as a source of electricity, have dramatically expanded the potential for global geothermal energy production.

October 22, 2009|For the Record|

For the Record: Summer 2009

Linda Eads, Dedman School of Law, received the 2009 Lola Wright Foundation Award from the Texas Bar Foundation in June, which included $5,000 to donate to the charity of her choice. The award recognizes “outstanding public service in advancing and enhancing legal ethics in Texas.” Past recipients include Berry Crowley, James Holmes III, Lloyd P. Lochridge, Jim Sales, Louise Raggio, Guy Harrison, Richard C. Hile, Justice Douglas S. Lan and Scott J. Atlas.

John Attanasio, Dean, Dedman School of Law, participated in a panel of law deans moderated by ESPN legal analyst Roger Cossack at the 2009 State Bar of Texas annual meeting June 25-26 in Dallas. Other speakers at this year’s meeting included historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, former FBI director William S. Sessions, Southern Poverty Law Center founder Morris Dees and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Anthony Cortese, Sociology, Dedman College, served as a panelist to evaluate proposals in sociology, anthropology, American studies, ethnic studies and psychology for the 2009 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships competition in Washington, D.C. He also served as commentator in a special session, “Racial Minorities in Popular Media,” at the annual meetings of the Association of Black Sociologists in New Orleans. In addition, he presented “Affirmative Action: Who’s Benefitting from it and Why” at the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association Aug. 8-11 in San Francisco.

Mary Vernon, Art, Meadows School of the Arts, will present a solo exhibition, Mary Vernon: Still Lifes and Tables, Aug. 28-Sept. 26, 2009, at the Valley House Gallery in Dallas. The show features work inspired by her recent trip to China.

Kamal Saggi, Economics, Dedman College, gave a keynote speech at the Valuing International Trade Rules Conference June 17-19, 2009, near Zurich, Switzerland. The conference was organized by the Swiss National Science Foundation and The World Bank. In addition, he was an invited discussant in the American Law Institute World Trade Organization Case Law Project, which met June 8 at the WTO in Geneva.

Members of SMU's student AAPG chapterSMU finished 10th nationally and first in Texas in the Excellence in Management Cup presented by Texas A&M’s Laboratory for the Study of Intercollegiate Athletics. The Cup determines which athletic departments win the most conference and national championships while having the lowest expenses. SMU won five conference championships in 2008-09, including cross country, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, women’s tennis and women’s basketball. Read more.

SMU’s student chapter of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists has received the national organization’s highest honor: the Domestic Student Chapter of the Year. The recognition includes a $1,000 scholarship from oil and gas industry supplier Schlumberger. SMU’s was the first AAPG student chapter in the nation; Hamilton Chair in Earth Sciences David Blackwell, Dedman College, is its faculty sponsor. Read more. (Left, student chapter members Jason Bell, Andrés Ruzo and Philip Klintmalm at a Barnett Shale drilling site.)

August 18, 2009|For the Record|

SMU researcher among experts at Geothermal Showcase in D.C.

Maria Richards and David BlackwellMaria Richards, coordinator of SMU’s Geothermal Lab, was among the industry leaders and experts presenting a Geothermal Showcase at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on May 6.

Participants virtually visited some of the leading geothermal energy development projects in the United States and heard from companies at the forefront of geothermal power growth. A panel of leading geothermal scientists discussed how geothermal resources can contribute to the world’s energy needs.

When most people think of geothermal energy, they usually think of extremely high heat, such as geysers. But the Geothermal Map of North America produced by Richards and Professor David Blackwell for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists in 2004 revealed locations all over the United States where subsurface temperatures are high enough to drive small, binary power plants and generate electricity. Blackwell and Richards are members of the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences in SMU’s Dedman College.

This kind of power plant is similar to an air conditioning unit run backwards, using heat to generate electricity. The hot water that runs through one chamber in the pump heats fluid with a lower boiling point in an adjacent chamber, which expands into high-pressure vapor and drives a turbine.

Deep drilling through hard rock is expensive, which is one reason traditional geothermal energy development has lagged behind green technologies like wind and solar power. But Blackwell’s mapping has proven that many existing oil and gas wells in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and some mid-continent states reach shallower depths where temperatures still range from 200-300 degrees Fahrenheit – hot enough for a binary power plant to do its job.

The Geothermal Showcase was sponsored by the Geothermal Energy Association along with Ormat, Enel North America, and Pratt and Whitney Power Systems.

(Above, Maria Richards and David Blackwell of SMU’s Huffington Department of Earth Sciences.)

Read more from SMU News

May 8, 2009|News|

Faculty in the News: Winter Break 2008-09

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Dedman College, provided expertise for several political stories, including:

  • how Republicans in Congress may be playing a high-risk game by snubbing Barack Obama, who has publicly sought their support, in Forbes magazine, Jan. 29, 2009
  • how a new bill that would boost health care coverage for children would cost and benefit Texans, in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jan. 15, 2009
  • the continuing influence of West Texas in the state legislature as Tom Craddick is replaced as speaker, in The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Jan. 3, 2009
  • Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama, and the Illinois governor’s scandal, in The Washington Examiner, Dec. 28, 2008

Dennis Simon, Political Science, Dedman College, talked about the challenges Barack Obama will face as president, including the challenge of expectations, with The Austin American-Statesman Jan. 18, 2009.

Kathleen Cooper, Tower Center for Political Studies, Dedman College, discussed how Texas will be affected as investments based on high oil prices fall on hard times in an op-ed published in The Houston Chronicle, Jan. 10, 2009.

Robin Lovin, Maguire University Professor of Ethics, discussed whether there is a place for “divine certainty” in the White House in The Dallas Morning News‘ Texas Faith blog Jan. 27, 2009. He also wrote about President Obama and the nature of historical moments for National Public Radio website Jan. 21, 2009.

SMU Theology Dean William LawrenceWilliam Lawrence, Dean, Perkins School of Theology, talked about the often unusual relationship between presidents and preachers in a commentary on 90.1 KERA-FM Radio Jan. 16, 2009 (listen online or download) audio. He also discussed “firsts and lasts” in American political discourse in a KERA commentary broadcast on Dec. 19, 2008 (listen online or download) audio.

Mike Davis, Finance, Cox School of Business, discussed why most individuals have zero comprehension of $1 trillion, and how to make the amount easier to understand, with The Dallas Morning News Jan. 29, 2009.

Ravi Batra, Economics, Dedman College, discussed the current state of the country and its economy in a feature profile published in The Fort Worth Weekly Dec. 16, 2008.

Karen Thomas, Journalism, Meadows School of the Arts, wrote about the changes already begun because of President Obama in an article published in The Dallas Morning News Jan. 20, 2009.

Tony Pederson, Journalism, Meadows School of the Arts, provided expertise for a Jan. 4, 2009 Associated Press article on how former competitors in the news business are forging content-sharing deals to mitigate staff cuts and other losses. The article ran in several newspapers in early January, including The Chicago Tribune.

Dan Howard, Marketing, Cox School of Business, talked about Amway’s effort to revive its own brand with The Houston Chronicle Dec. 25, 2008.

SMU Education Dean David ChardDavid Chard, Dean, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, wrote an op-ed about the banning of the book ttyl by the Round Rock (TX) Independent School District. The opinion piece was published in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram Jan. 13, 2009.

Hal Barkley, Counseling, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, talked about how to cope with families and stress during the holidays with The Dallas Morning News Dec. 22, 2008.

Al Armendariz, Environmental and Civil Engineering, Lyle School of Engineering, discussed potential hazards in Houston’s air with The Houston Chronicle Jan. 12, 2009.

David Blackwell, Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Dedman College, discussed how power from underground “hot rocks” could become the “killer app” of the energy industry with The Christian Science Monitor Dec. 31, 2008.

February 2, 2009|Faculty in the News|
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