SMU Geothermal Lab Researchers in Alaska

Thursday September 8, 2016

Hello from Flattop Mountain in Anchorage, Alaska!

 By Madie Jones (Master’s student, SMU)

We are on day 3 of our Arctic research journey to collect heat flow and chirp seismic data in the Beaufort Sea. Here are the scientists (minus me): Dr. Matt Hornbach (SMU), Dr. Rob Harris (OSU), Casey Brokaw (Master’s student, SMU) and Dr. Ben Phrampus (Postdoc, OSU and SMU Alum).

Matt Hornback, Rob Harris, Casey Brokaw and Ben Phrampus overlooking Cook Inlet in Anchorage, Alaska
Matt Hornbach, Rob Harris, Casey Brokaw and Ben Phrampus overlooking Cook Inlet in Anchorage, Alaska

We’re currently hanging out in Anchorage, AK until the weather and seas calm down a bit at our dock site in Wainwright, AK. The flight to Wainwright was supposed to take place this morning but fog, wind and rough seas expected to last through tomorrow have postponed the last leg of our trip an extra day.

So… what do you do when you can’t board your ship? Hike! We hiked up Flattop Mountain taking in the sights of Cook Inlet and enjoying the cool weather, which has been a nice break from the long and very hot Texas summer.

We are excited and anxious to board the Norseman II tomorrow for 10 full days at sea. Hoping for calmer, clearer weather and for a smooth transition onto the boat. You can track the Norseman II here:

More updates to come… Wish us luck!

Casey Brokaw, Madie Jones and Ben Phrampus overlooking Cook Inlet in Anchorage, Alaska
Casey Brokaw, Madie Jones and Ben Phrampus overlooking Cook Inlet in Anchorage, Alaska

Overview of SMU Geothermal Lab Founding, Projects and Conferences

Maria Richards and Christine Ferguson of the SMU Geothermal Laboratory discuss the Lab’s founding, projects including the Geothermal Map of North America and National Geothermal Data System, and the Labs international energy conferences.

See Maria and Christine at the 2016 SMU Power Plays conference.

Jeff Dye and Dexter Jacobs of LoCap Energy discuss the 2015 SMU Power Plays Conference

Jeff Dye and Dexter Jacobs, founders of the startup company LoCap Energy, attended the 2015 SMU Power Plays conference.  In this video they highlight their activities since attending the conference.

Jeff and Dexter will be presenting an update LoCap Energy’s energy storage and efficiency solutions at the 2016 SMU Power Plays conference.

Miguel Benitez Torreblanca of Grupo iiDEA discusses the 2015 SMU Power Plays Conference

Miguel Benitez Torreblanca was part of a group of students from Grupo iiDEA at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) that attended the 2015 SMU Power Plays conference.  Miguel discusses the group’s experiences in this video.

See Miguel present an update on Grupo iiDEA research at the 2016 SMU Power Plays conference.

The Differences between Geothermal and Petroleum – A Comparison

Chad Augustine, Geothermal Energy Engineer/Analyst with National Renewable Energy Laboratory, (NREL) has broken the code that explains the core differences between O&G and geothermal drilling.  The graphic below identifies the major misconceptions that cloud and confuse both sides from collaborating more than they currently do.

The Differences Between Geothermal and Petroleum, Chad Augustine
The Differences between Geothermal and Petroleum, Chad Augustine, NREL

Although the goals of the petroleum and geothermal industry are the same – to extract energy from the subsurface – there are major differences that can make it difficult for them to communicate and collaborate. Often it seems like the industries are speaking two different languages. This is most true when the industries attempt to talk about temperatures and flow rates. What is “hot” in the petroleum industry is low temperature for geothermal, and a “high flow rate” from a petroleum well could be an order of magnitude less than what is needed for commercial geothermal energy production. A key to collaboration and to developing geothermal projects in petroleum settings is getting both sides to “speak the same language” when evaluating prospects and discussing the requirements for commercial electricity generation. After this, many of the same technologies and expertise used by the petroleum industry to produce oil and gas could be used to produce water for geothermal electricity generation.

Chad will be presenting this concept and more at the SMU Power Plays Conference on April 25-26th in Dallas, Texas. Don’t miss the opportunity to see this in person.  Register today!

North Dakota Oil, DOE and Universities work together in the name of Geothermal!

It’s more apparent than ever, the DOE is incentivizing oil companies to work with universities, engineers, scientists and project developers to test and prove organic Rankine cycle (ORC) systems that will most cost effectively generate power from low temperature geothermal fluids found in 10,000 oil and gas wells.

DOE is working with companies like Continental Resources and Encore Acquisition in Western North Dakota to prove these technologies over a two-year period.  It seems promising, as the cool climate (mean annual temperature of 50°F) and abundant availability of geothermal fluid at 150-300°F in oil producing formations, are both ideal criteria for successful operations of ORC technologies throughout the Williston Basin.  Records indicate there are 102 unitized oil fields in the North Dakota portion of the Basin, which brings significant co-production opportunities for these communities using ORC systems.

Access Energy machines at North Dakota project
Access Energy machines at North Dakota project

The DOE is working on two specific projects over two-year periods. Their objectives are to demonstrate the technologic and economic feasibility of generating electricity from low temperature geothermal fluids.

Find out much more by attending the SMU Power Plays Conference and Workshop this April.  Click here to find out how!

Natural (Flare) Gas Captured to Generate Electricity

In North Dakota, the hunt for more oil has produced surplus gas.  Natural gas is burned off, or ‘flared’ where there are no – or overloaded – pipelines.  As of 2014, there were nearly 11,000 producing wells in North Dakota, with an alarming amount of flaring going on.  Hess Corporation among many developers in the Bakken, faced strict regulations to reduce emissions by limiting the flaring of excess gas from their project sites.

Hess along with Gulf Coast Green Energy, Houston Advanced Research Center and Environmentally Friendly Drilling have worked together on a solution to capture the excess flared gas and generate electricity with it.  To do so, a Power+ generator was installed – and studies have shown that emissions are lowered when the Power+ generator is online.

For more information – you can watch this video

and attend SMU’s Power Plays Conference, April 25 -26, 2016 for a full update of the project success.

Click here to register!

Source and project leads: