Heat or geothermal energy naturally emanates from the Earth’s molten core. Harnessing this power requires drilling deep boreholes into the ground, which is an expensive process. In Meggers’ project, “Sequestering building heat demand and CO2 simultaneously: investigating wells for heat and CO2 injection,” Meggers proposes utilizing existing deep wells that have been used to extract fossil fuels to sequester CO2 and tap underground heat. This mitigates costs for drilling new holes.
“In preliminary work, we have leveraged data from the recently released National Geothermal Database System to investigate how a large network of existing holes can be exploited for medium--grade geothermal heat,” said Meggers. “The dataset for Pennsylvania shows 18,000 wells with typical depths of more than 1000 meters and temperatures more than 35 degrees Celsius or 95 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat can be pumped directly into buildings.”
The geothermal energy would be harnessed for a district heating system, where heat for household and commercial use would be generated in a centralized location and distributed throughout a district. An alternative to individual boilers, engineers say district heating is more energy efficient, has lower carbon emissions, and saves money over the long run. District heating systems have been utilized in the Netherlands and Iceland.
In this proposed two-year study, Meggers and his team plan on building a model setup of the well system at the School of Architecture’s new Embodied Computation Laboratory. This involves drilling a 2,000-foot borehole.