DOE awards SMU $5.25 million to expand U.S. geothermal production

geothermal-map-of-north-america.jpgThe 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 Data System.

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.

800px-Geothermal_energy_methods.pngSMU will work with a diverse team of experts from academia, industry and national labs with experience in conventional hydrothermal geothermal resource assessment, Enhanced Geothermal Systems, oil and gas data, geopressure geothermal and produced water non-conventional geothermal systems in providing the data, including:

  • An expanded and updated version of the SMU Heat Flow database that covers the whole onshore U.S. and offshore regions in the Gulf of Mexico.

  • The Geothermal Resources Council library with over 36K in documents and over 1.3 million pages on geothermal research
  • Extensive information on Enhanced Geothermal System research including legacy data files and the latest developing results of research in the northeastern U.S.
  • Core logs, well logs, and current and legacy geopressure data from the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology covering many states
  • Detailed nationwide data on produced water collected from numerous states’ oil and gas agencies and several federal agencies plus relevant geological, spatial, well bore, injection/disposal, and water well data.

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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.”

A distributed network of databases, NGDS was established by the U.S. Department of Energy to collectively build a system for acquisition, management and maintenance of geothermal and related data.

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. — Kim Cobb

Related links:
SMU Geothermal Energy Utilization Conference
SECO: Texas Geothermal Energy
Google invests in SMU geothermal research
Google video on advanced geothermal technology
CBN News: Geothermal energy right under our feet
SMU Research News: Earth’s inner heat can generate electric power
SMU geothermal home
SMU Geothermal Laboratory
David Blackwell
Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences

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