NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Steve Dwyer gets to crush rocks for a living in his lab at the University of Oklahoma.
“When we want to generate the forces that the Earth creates underground it’s awe inspiring to see that in action,” Lab Manager at the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy at the University of Oklahoma Steve Dwyer said.
Soon a team from this geology lab will head to California to study geothermal wells in a volcanic field using money from the U.S. Department of Energy.
“To test some new concepts of fracturing geothermal wells to increase production. We can also test some new technology in terms of isolating the zone we plan to hydraulically fracture,” Dr. Ahmad Ghassemi, McCasland Chair and professor of petroleum engineering at the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy at the University of Oklahoma, said.
Ghassemi says geothermal potential has mostly been confined to western states. He hopes new technologies will help move the natural energy to central and eastern states.
“To potentially participate in geothermal energy production in the U.S. and at the same time it provides an impetus for a research program to continue to excel in this area,” Ghassemi said.
OU received $2.5 million dollars in grant money for their research.
Congressman Tom Cole supports its mission saying in a release, “Widely recognized as a center for scientific excellence and innovation, OU’s contributions will indeed be critical in honing production and refining the use of geothermal energy.”
“I think it’s going to play a major role in the overall energy portfolio in the U.S. so the plan is to improve technology such that we can produce 10 percent of our electricity from geothermal,” Ghassemi said.
“The Earth is a very dangerous place. Very violent underground and the better we understand that the better we make use of our environment really,” Dwyer said.
Ghassemi’s hope is to get there by 2050.
Graduate students from the OU Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy are among those involved with this project.