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Cornell University to host forum on planned geothermal project, May 17, 2018

Cornell University (source: flickr/ Lina Rodriguez, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 9 May 2018

Cornell University will host a public forum Thursday, May 17, 2018 to provide an update on its Earth Source Heat (ESH) geothermal project that is to utilise an enhanced geothermal energy system that could be central to heating the Ithaca campus sustainably without the use of fossil fuels.

Cornell University will host a public forum Thursday, May 17, 2018 as reported on its website. The Forum is to provide an update on an enhanced geothermal energy system that could be central to heating the Ithaca campus sustainably without the use of fossil fuels.

The forum builds upon community meetings held in spring 2017 to discuss the Earth Source Heat (ESH) geothermal project as part of a report outlining ways for Cornell to diversify its renewable energy portfolio in the hopes of achieving carbon neutrality by 2035.

With the Earth Source Heat geothermal project, Cornell aims to utilise geothermal energy using an enhanced-geothermal system. “Unlike traditional geothermal systems, Earth Source Heat would be best optimized by reaching hot basement rock—metamorphic or igneous rock that is 200- to 300-degrees Fahrenheit—sitting up to 5 kilometers below campus. To reach that depth, extract the clean, renewable heat and then distribute it throughout the campus would require a feat of engineering that has yet to be achieved in the U.S. It would require breaking the rules to challenge conventional thought about how and where such geothermal systems can be deployed.”

The stakes are high. If successful, Cornell would all but eliminate the use of fossil-fuels to heat its campus. But the ultimate goal is much larger than that. Success would mean demonstrating a new energy solution that could be adopted by other communities in the U.S. and beyond.

The May 17 meeting is from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at The Space at GreenStar, 700 W. Buffalo St., Ithaca, and will include a brief presentation followed by questions from the audience.

Featured panelists include:

  • Lance Collins, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering;
  • Jefferson Tester, the Croll Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems and chief scientist for Earth Source Heat. His research focuses on improving the technical and economic performance of ESH reservoir and drilling systems;
  • Katie Keranen, assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences. Her research uses seismic reflection imaging, along with local and global seismicity, to study active fault zones and regions of active tectonics;
  • Tony Ingraffea, professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering. His research concentrates on computer simulation and physical testing of complex fracturing processes. He also works to inform public policy related to issues associated with unconventional development of natural gas; and
  • Todd Cowen, professor of civil and environmental engineering and faculty director for energy at the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. He is engaged in renewable energy projects in Tompkins County and throughout New York state.

Joel Malina, vice president for university relations, will serve as moderator.

Source: Cornell University