Analysis of Low-Temperature Utilization of Geothermal Resources Geothermal Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title Analysis of Low-Temperature Utilization of Geothermal Resources
Project Type / Topic 1 Recovery Act: Enhanced Geothermal Systems Component Research and Development/Analysis
Project Type / Topic 2 Geothermal Analysis
Project Description In this proposal West Virginia University (WVU) outline a project which will perform an in-depth analysis of the low-temperature geothermal resources that dominate the eastern half of the United States. Full realization of the potential of what might be considered “low-grade” geothermal resources will require the examination many more uses for the heat than traditional electricity generation. To demonstrate that geothermal energy truly has the potential to be a national energy source the project will be designing, assessing, and evaluating innovative uses for geothermal-produced water such as hybrid biomass-geothermal cogeneration of electricity and district heating and efficiency improvements to the use of cellulosic biomass in addition to utilization of geothermal in district heating for community redevelopment projects.

A diverse team of researchers that will evaluate low-temperature geothermal utilization for three different case studies:

- A hybrid biomass-geothermal cogeneration system at Cornell University,
- A system for cellulosic biomass gasification and utilization at Iowa State University, and
- A retrofit and expansion to a district heating system in a community redevelopment project at West Virginia University.

These three case studies will be analyzed for the impacts of geothermal energy use in the form of fossil fuel and CO2 offsets, generalized for non-specific sites, and integrated into regional energy analysis models such as SEDS, MARKAL, and NEMS.

State West Virginia
Objectives - Perform a techno-economic analysis of the integration and utilization potential of low-temperature geothermal sources. Innovative uses of low-enthalpy geothermal water will be designed and examined for their ability to offset fossil fuels and decrease CO2 emissions.

- Perform process optimizations and economic analyses of processes that can utilize low-temperature geothermal fluids. These processes will include electricity generation using biomass, electricity and heat co-generation using biomass and district heating systems.
- Scale up and generalize the results of three case study locations to develop a regionalized model of the utilization of low-temperature geothermal resources. This model will be implemented into existing energy assessment models such as SEDS, MARKAL, and NEMS to assess market penetration potential.

Awardees (Company / Institution) West Virginia University
Legal Name of Awardee West Virginia University Research Corporation
Awardee Website
Partner 1 National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Partner 2 Iowa State University
Partner 3 Cornell University

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000075
DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $1,269,595.00
Awardee Cost Share $332,875.00
Total Project Cost $1,602,470.00

Principal Investigator(s) Brian Anderson, West Virginia University
Other Principal Investigators Chad Augustine, National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Terrence Meyer, Iowa State University; Jefferson Tester Cornell University; Song-Charng Kong, Iowa State University; and Robert Brown, Iowa State University.
Targets / Milestones -Develop innovative methods of using low-temperature geothermal resources to increase the efficiency of other renewable energy processes and illustrate the impacts that geothermal energy can have on the national scale.
-Deliver a resource assessment for low-temperature geothermal energy utilization demonstrating that geothermal energy is truly a nationwide energy resource.

Location of Project Morgantown, WV
39.6294°, -79.9558°

Impacts This Cornell geothermal analysis looks promising combined with a biomass gasification project. Funded geothermal analysts are being asked to assist the program in developing better supply and techno-economic estimates that can be used in DOE models such as the proposed input to MARKAL.
Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs