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SMU Geothermal Lab awarded $5.25 million DOE grant

Data project to help dramatically expand US geothermal production

October 30, 2009

Southern Methodist University's renowned Geothermal Laboratory has been awarded a $5.25 million grant by the U.S. Department of Energy to provide data for the developing National Geothermal Database. SMU's grant allocation is included in $338 million in Recovery Act funding announced Oct. 29 by DOE Secretary Steven Chu to help dramatically expand geothermal production in the United States.

SMU will work with a diverse team from academia, industry, and national labs with experience in conventional hydrothermal geothermal resource assessment, Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS), Oil & Gas data, geo-pressure 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 (GRC) 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 (Fenton Hill) and the latest developing results of research in the northeastern U.S.
  • Core logs, well logs, and current and legacy geo-pressure data from the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) covering many states
  • Detailed nationwide data on produced water collected from numerous states' Oil & Gas agencies and several federal agencies plus relevant geological, spatial, well bore, injection/disposal, and water well data.

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 http://smu.edu/geothermal/Oil&Gas/2009/Geothermal_Energy_Utilization.htm.

Media Contact:
Kim Cobb
214-768-7654
cobbk@smu.edu

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