Utah FORGE and UofU’s Department of Communication partner up

In yet another example of inter-departmental collaboration, Utah FORGE, a geothermal energy research project, is delighted to be working closely with Dr. Sara K. Yeo in the University’s Department of Communication, within the College of Humanities.

The research being conducted by Utah FORGE near the town of Milford is focused on enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) technologies. The project is testing the tools and technologies to develop a geothermal resource where none exists naturally. If successful, these methods can be applied virtually anywhere in the world, providing a clean, inexhaustible energy source.

Harnessing the potential of geothermal energy could provide a great boost to the nation’s energy portfolio. Indeed, scientists suggest if we can tap just 2% of the energy found between 2 and 6 miles below the Earth’s surface, we would have more than 2000 times the energy used in the U.S. every year. It is literally the heat beneath our feet.

Public surveys indicate, however, that most people don’t know much about geothermal energy, and it’s seldomly included in discussions about renewable energy sources.  To better understand the current level of understanding and familiarity with geothermal energy, Utah FORGE is working with Dr. Yeo on a capstone course which includes surveying individuals about their awareness, knowledge, and opinions of geothermal energy.

“This is a unique opportunity for the students to put into practice the theories we discuss in class,” said Sara K. Yeo, Ph.D. and the professor conducting the capstone. “With the collaboration of the Utah FORGE team, the students developed the questions and determined the scope of the survey.”

“Our collaboration with Dr. Yeo is an exciting aspect of this project. It will provide us with a baseline from which we can judge the progress of our efforts to educate the public about geothermal energy and EGS,” said Joseph Moore, Ph.D., principal investigator of the project.

The 15-20-minute survey includes questions seeking to ascertain the public’s general understanding of geothermal energy and EGS. Responses are being obtained from 1000 individuals in 11 states across the western U.S. The capstone course will be repeated in the Fall Semester of 2021 to allow for a longitudinal data set to be created.

The Utah FORGE project is being managed by the Energy & Geoscience Institute at the University of Utah. Funding for the project is being provided by the US Department of Energy. It is one of the largest non-medical grants the University of Utah has ever received.

The University of Utah is no stranger to geothermal energy – it is purchasing 20 megawatts of geothermal electricity annually from Cyrq Energy, a geothermal developer actively working in Utah and Nevada.  Additionally, the Gardner Commons Building is entirely powered by that geothermal energy located just beneath our feet. With nearly half of its energy needs being met by renewable sources, the University of Utah is ranked eighth in the Green Power Partnership Top 30 College & University rankings.

 

December 22, 2020

Utah FORGE and the College of Education develop a new partnership

Inter-departmental cooperation has always been a hallmark of success for the University of Utah. The latest example of this cooperation is found in two seemingly disparate groups: Utah FORGE, a geothermal energy research project, and the College of Education.

Harnessing the potential of geothermal energy could provide a great boost to the nation’s energy portfolio. Indeed, scientists suggest if we can tap just 2% of the energy found between 2 and 6 miles below the Earth’s surface, we would have more than 2000 times the energy used in the U.S. every year. It is literally the heat beneath our feet. However, most people don’t know much about geothermal energy, and it’s rarely included in discussions about renewable energy sources.

Utah FORGE and the College of Education are working to change that. Building on the research Utah FORGE is conducting near Milford, in southwestern Utah, the College of Education is creating lesson plans which include geothermal energy as part of topic discussions around renewable energy.

“This is a unique opportunity for the Urban Institute for Teacher Education (UITE) in the College of Education,” said Mary D. Burbank, Assistant Dean and Director. “We consistently strive to advance the material taught in schools both in Utah and around the country. This collaboration with Utah FORGE allows us to introduce important new subject matter to students of all ages.”

Ph.D. candidate Tamara Young from the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Assistant Professor Lauren Barth-Cohen from the Department of Educational Psychology are working on the lesson plans. These plans are designed to incorporate the latest Utah science with engineering education (SEEd) standards and include hands-on and virtual heat conduction experiments, data interpretation segments, and group discussion activities. The plans are intended for K-12 students as part of the overall science curriculum.

“We are so excited to be collaborating with our colleagues at the College of Education. Their long record of innovation is an amazing resource for us to help build overall understanding about Utah FORGE and geothermal energy in general,” said Joseph Moore, Ph.D., Principal Investigator of the project.

The goal of Utah FORGE’s research is to test tools and technologies for the creation of a geothermal resource where none exists naturally. If successful, these methods can be applied virtually anywhere in the world, providing a clean, inexhaustible energy source.

The Utah FORGE project is being managed by the Energy & Geoscience Institute at the University of Utah. Funding for the project is being provided by the US Department of Energy. It is one of the largest non-medical grants the University of Utah has ever received.

The University of Utah is no stranger to geothermal energy – it is purchasing 20 megawatts of geothermal electricity annually from Cyrq Energy, a geothermal developer actively working in Utah and Nevada.  Additionally, the Gardner Commons Building is entirely powered by that geothermal energy located just beneath our feet. With nearly half of its energy needs being met by renewable sources, the University of Utah is ranked eighth in the Green Power Partnership Top 30 College & University rankings.

December 3, 2020

Did you know… that Reykjavík is a city of geothermal energy?

Did you know… that Reykjavík is a city of geothermal energy?

Did you know that the city of Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, is widely recognized for its geothermal energy? Many first think of the word ‘ice’ when hearing Iceland, but surprisingly Iceland is also known for its use of Earth’s heat. Due to its geological location directly on the mid-Atlantic ridge, it is constantly supplied by an enormous amount of underground magmatic and geothermal heat. The literal translation of Reykjavík is “steamy bay” that comes from the steam discharge associated with natural geothermal activity.

Aware of the underground heat available, Icelanders have learned to adapt to their environment. Since the arrival of the first Scandinavian settlers in the late 800s, Icelanders have utilized geothermal sources for bathing and cooking. One of their popular traditional foods, Hverabrauð, is a bread loaf cooked in the steam from a geyser for 24 hours. Up into the early part of the 20th century, coal was the main source of energy and air pollution was a serious problem. To address this, the first geothermal pipelines were installed in 1934, and since then Reykjavík has been continuously expanding geothermal utilization. Reykjavík now has the largest district heating system in the world (700 MWthermal), which is run by Orkuveita, and more than 60 million cubic meters of hot water flow through the distribution system. Hot water supply comes from low temperature geothermal areas around Reykjavik and from high temperature geothermal fields in the Hengill area to the east of the city. These hotter resources are mainly used to generate electricity, but a significant amount of heat also supplies the district heating scheme. The combination of geothermal fields and hydroelectric dams means that more than 99% of all the electricity used in Iceland comes from renewable sources.

 

References:

https://adventures.is/information/geothermal-energy-iceland/

https://icelandmag.is/article/nine-fascinating-facts-about-geothermal-energy-and-reykjavik

https://pangea.stanford.edu/ERE/pdf/IGAstandard/ISS/2004Poland/3_5_gunlaugsson.pdf

Geothermal Resources Lecture #1

Conventional vs Unconventional …

Dr. Stuart Simmons introduces us to renewable energy in the 21st century – this month learn about conventional geothermal resources and the basic concepts of heat transfer, enthalpy and power as well as where and how geothermal energy is utilized.

 

This is the first lecture of the geoscientific series of lectures.The lectures will reside on our

Geothermal Resources Lecture Series page

 

Did you know…that some species incubate their eggs using geothermal heat?

Did you know that some species incubate their eggs using geothermal heat?

Megapodes represent a family of birds that are also known as incubator birds. They are found across Australasia, and they are known for their unique strategies to keep their eggs warm and safe. Depending on the local environment, incubating strategies range from building a massive nest with stacks of decaying vegetation to laying eggs in warm ground heated by the sun. Certain species of megapode occurring on volcanic islands in the Bismarck archipelago, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga, and Micronesia bury and incubate their eggs in geothermally heated ground. Megapodes originated in Australia, and as they evolved, they spread northward and eastward to tropical islands of the southwest Pacific. The use of thermal ground by just a few species of Megapode to incubate eggs appears to be simply a matter of opportunity.

The incubation of eggs in thermal ground, however, is not just for the birds. Their ancient ancestors, dinosaurs, may have been similarly opportunistic. The recently discovered Sangasta nesting site in northwest Argentina provides definitive evidence that neosaupods used geothermally heated ground to incubate their eggs. Much like humans, some animals have used geothermal heat when and where it is easily available.

 

References:

Grellet-Tinner, G. and Fiorelli, L.E., 2010, A new Argentinian nesting site showing neosauropod dinosaur reproduction in a Cretaceous hydrothermal environment: Nature Communications, 1:32, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1031

Harris, R.B., Birks, S.M. and Leaché, A.D., 2014, Incubator birds: biogeographical origins and evolution of underground nesting megapodes (Galliformes: Megapodiidae): Journal of Biogeography, v. 41, p. 2045-2056.

https://www.birdlife.org/worldwide/news/incredible-%E2%80%9Cincubator-bird%E2%80%9D-be-saved-rat-removal-pacific-island

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4662581/

Did you know… that there are animals that use natural thermal heat in the form of hot springs and warm ground?

Geothermal energy has great benefits for people, but did you know that there are animals that use natural thermal heat in the form of hot springs and warm ground?

Macaques, better known as snow monkeys, are found throughout the main Japanese Island of Honshu, and they are famous for soaking in local volcanic hot springs. Their bathing habit is a recent phenomenon that was first observed at Korakukan Onsen, a local guest house, in 1962. Snow monkeys seem to have adapted this habit from observing humans in the hot springs. Since then, this behavior has been passed onto rest of their troops, and it has now become a part of their daily routine. Snow monkeys bathe in hot springs to preserve body heat to survive the cold and rigid winters, but recent studies have proven they also do this as a form of stress relief.

 

References:

Matsuzawa, T., 2918, Hot-spring bathing wild monkeys in Shiga-Heights: origin and propagation of a cultural behavior: Primates, v. 59, p. 209-213.

Takeshita, R.S.C., Bercovitch, F.B., Kinoshita, K. and Huffman, M.A., 2018, Beneficial effect of hot spring bathing on stress levels in Japanese macaques: Primates, v. 59, p. 215-225.

https://www.upi.com/Science_News/2018/04/03/Japans-snow-monkeys-use-hot-baths-to-conserve-body-heat-relieve-stress/6021522777656/

http://animalia.bio/japanese-macaque

https://www.snowmonkeyresorts.com/smr/snowmonkeypark/the-snow-monkeys-faq/

Did you know… that the direct use of geothermal energy can be used to raise alligators? 

Did you know that the direct use of geothermal energy can be used to raise alligators?

The direct use of geothermal energy can apply to almost any activity that requires heating (and cooling) for industrial, residential and agricultural purposes. The heat is transferred by hot ground water in the temperature range of 20-120°C (70-250°F) which is produced from shallow wells and then distributed through surface pipework. One very popular direct use application of geothermal energy is for bathing in natural hot springs. Spas all over the world use naturally produced hot water for recreational and therapeutic purposes. In Utah, the Crystal Hot Springs offers warm and mineral-rich baths which attracts numerous visitors throughout the year.

Another direct use application is space heating that may serve a single, stand-alone structure, or more commonly multiple buildings, which are linked by a pipeline that supplies hot water. For regions that are subject to cold winters, this is a cost effective means of heating without contributing to atmospheric pollution. District heating has been in use since the late 1890s when the city of Boise, Idaho started using geothermal energy to heat buildings. District heating is also popular in China, Iceland, France, Germany, Hungary and New Zealand. In the state of Utah, the prison at the Point of the Mountain uses district heating for 330,000 sq. ft. of prison space, saving thousands of dollars over conventional heating systems.

This type of geothermal energy is even used to heat greenhouses to grow plants. The Milgro complex in Newcastle, Utah is one of the largest producers of poinsettias and chrysanthemums in the USA; it uses geothermally heated greenhouses to grow its flowers. This type of energy is also used to heat ponds for aquaculture and fish farming. The warm springs near Grantsville, Utah are filled with warm, mineral-rich water that supports a variety of fish and are also an attraction for scuba-diving activities. Fish breeders in Idaho farm a range of species, including ones requiring geothermally heated ponds, which famously once included alligators!

Read more:

https://hagermanvalleychamber.com/membership_directory/fish-breeders-of-idaho/

https://oregontechsfstatic.azureedge.net/sitefinity-production/docs/default-source/geoheat-center-documents/quarterly-bulletin/vol-25/art7.pdf?sfvrsn=98268d60_4

https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy04osti/36316.pdf