SMU Geothermal Research
Research is the lifeblood of the SMU Geothermal Laboratory. For over 40 years it has provided a rich foundation for the educational experience offered to undergraduates and graduate students alike. The main research focus of the SMU Geothermal Lab is exploration and assessment of existing and potential geothermal resources. Areas of expertise include:
- Identification, Assessment and Mapping of Geothermal Resources
- Development, Expansion and Maintenance of Thermal Databases
- Mapping of Geophysical Data
- Modeling of Hydrothermal Systems, Oil & Gas Fields and Unconventional Geothermal Resources
- On-site Borehole Temperature-Depth Logging
- Measurement and Analysis of Rock Sample Thermal Conductivity
The SMU Geothermal Lab has been the recipient of approximately $10 million in research grants from a variety of sources, including the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the Texas State Energy Conservation Office, Google.org and private industry.
Google - Research completed in 2011 includes a major update to the 2004 Geothermal Map of North America (heat flow) as well as updates and improvements to the temperature at depth maps of the United States (last updated in 2006 as part of the MIT Future of Geothermal Energy Report). These efforts were supported by a grant from Google.org as part of their RE<C initiative to support renewable energy. For more details and methodology see the list of related references.
National Geothermal Database System - The Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies Program awarded the SMU Geothermal Lab and seven subcontractors $5.25 million to collect new and aggregate existing data for a larger National Geothermal Data System (NGDS) as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The SMU Geothermal Lab, Siemens Corporate Research, the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas, Cornell University, the Geothermal Resources Council, MLKay Technologies, Texas Tech University, and the University of North Dakota are collaborating on this three year project to provide access to all manner of geothermal data to industry stakeholders. Our team’s contributions, along with similar efforts to aggregate the data available through the state geological societies and at other research facilities around the country, will help reduce the risk of geothermal project development by providing ready access to relevant information.
In addition to the NGDS work effort, the SMU Geothermal Laboratory graduate students are involved in a number of other projects throughout the country and the world.