Project brings geothermal energy to University of Minnesota

Posted on: November 15th, 2013
Project brings geothermal energy to University of Minnesota

Project brings geothermal energy to University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota expects to launch a new energy project next year that focuses on introducing green energy to the campus. Finance and Commerce reported that the construction of a pilot plant that would produce electricity from geothermal energy is expected to boost production at a Canadian oil field. The plant represented one of the first commercial applications of a new renewable energy technology referred to as Carbon Dioxide Plume Geothermal, which was developed at the U of M.

CPG generates electricity from carbon dioxide that is injected underground during a practice referred to as enhanced oil recovery. According to the news source, this is expected to increase the amount of crude oil extracted from a field that is nearing the end of its productivity. Overall, this will improve the sustainability of an oil field and allow for the transfer of energy to occur from fossil fuels to geothermal.

“It would be the first of a kind but the opportunity to do that exists on an extremely broad basis there,” Ken Carpenter, Heat Mining Co. managing director, told the news source. “There are literally thousands of these sites that could be converted to producing electricity using CPG technology. The opportunity to expand throughout the world is pretty big. Over the next decade there could be tens of thousands of megawatts of power produced using this technique just in the oil fields.”

By establishing new methods of harnessing the power of the earth, a geothermal system is being tasked with a new purpose. According to the university website, researchers and developers at the institution have used geothermal power to transform Earth’s heat into electricity involving a hot water extraction process from rock formations several hundred feet from the Earth’s surface. That hot water is then used to energize power-producing turbines.

Dr. Runar Nygaard, assistant professor of petroleum engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, told Finance and Commerce that CPG electricity production is expected to be the next great thing and future of renewable energy.

“Geothermal is the missing focus on renewable energy,” Nygaard told the news source. “There’s a lot of emphasis on solar and wind but we still overlook geothermal as a viable electricity source.”

The geothermal technology system deployed here is expected to be tested in a wide range of applications. U of M has stated that it intends to use the system to its advantage by exploring how the CPG system uses high-pressure CO2 instead of water, as the underground heat-carrying fluid. The results are expected to help researchers and developers design a new wave of geothermal solutions.

Geothermal solutions are growing in popularity in a number of industries. The clean, renewable technology is being used by residential and commercial property owners alike because of its operational and ecological benefits.

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