stuart_simmonsUPDATED 10/20/14: Download lecture slides here.

All are welcome to an invited seminar by Dr. Stuart Simmons, Research Professor, EGI, University of Utah. The title is: “Geothermal Energy in the 21st Century: What Engineers and Scientists Need to Know.” The seminar will be from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday October 1, in WEB L102. There will be light refreshments afterwards.

Geothermal energy is low grade, but widespread, renewable energy. It is used for direct heating (i.e., buildings, small & large scale industry), and in geologically favorable settings, resources are used for electricity generation. These conventional resources occur in volcanic regions (e.g., circum-Pacific, Iceland) and along basin bounding faults (e.g. Utah, Nevada). The best resources produce high enthalpy (~2800 kJ/kg) dry steam from wells, for power stations that generate >700 MWe (i.e., The Geysers, USA; Lardarello, Italy), and they can produce energy for many decades. Most modern plants and reservoirs operate with technology that was developed decades ago. Unconventional resources comprise huge volumes of “hot dry rock” (200-300°C) at accessible depths (<5 km), but with no means of natural convective heat transfer. Despite considerable R&D expense only two pilot plants exist which generate ~3 MWe total. New technologies need to be developed, which enable cost-effective and sustainable heat transfer, to raise the status of geothermal energy as widely usable form of energy. DOE is investing $30 million into a single experimental site for developing Engineered Geothermal Systems (EGS), and researchers from U Utah and the Utah Geological Survey propose to host the site in Utah. Such a facility will provide groundbreaking opportunities in advancing renewable energy technology.

Stuart Simmons is a Research Professor at EGI, and he works as a consultant to the geothermal and minerals industries. From 1987 to 2008, he was on the academic staff of the Geothermal Institute, the University of Auckland where he served as Associate Professor and Director. From 2011 to 2013, he was a Research Professor at Colorado School of Mines. His research focuses on the geoscience of geothermal energy, with on going projects in New Zealand, Chile, and the western USA. Stuart received his Ph.D. and M.S. in Geology from the University of Minnesota, and B.A. Geology from Macalester College.