Energy Engineering Seminar: Jeff Tester, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Cornell University




Earth Source Heat at Cornell - Geothermal energy's evolving role in decarbonization - in NY State and beyond Sixteen states in the U.S. have set aggressive goals to decarbonize their energy footprint by 80% or more by 2050. This presents a significant challenge particularly for heating-dominated states where between 20 and 40% of their carbon footprint results from burning natural gas, fuel oil and propane for space and water heating in residential and commercial buildings and for providing low-temperature industrial process heat. Most federal and state energy polices and incentives currently focus on promoting renewable solar PV and wind power for generating electricity and electrifying land transportation – often ignoring the need for decarbonizing the supply of thermal energy for heating. Moderate temperature geothermal resources (<100°C) could provide an attractive, low-carbon alternative for meeting a majority of these heating demands. Cornell has initiated a project to demonstrate the use of Earth Source Heat (ESH) technology to provide geothermal baseload heating as a key component of its strategy to reach carbon neutrality for the Ithaca campus. A successful Cornell ESH demonstration will serve as an example for rural and urban communities in New York State and in the Northern Tier of the U.S to follow. At this seminar, Cornell’s ongoing ESH project will be discussed including, (1) Site-selection and design of an initial exploratory well that will be drilled on the campus this fall, (2) Research on subsurface science and reservoir engineering, and (3) Integrated energy systems analysis combining baseload district heating using ESH with peak heating with waste biomass. Biography: Dr. Tester is the Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University and Cornell’s Principal Scientist for Earth Source Heat. He also founded and served as Director of the Cornell Energy Institute from 2009 -2017 and is a Fellow in the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and a Croll Energy Fellow. Prior to his appointment at Cornell in 2009, Dr. Tester was the H.P. Meissner Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served as Director of MIT's Energy Laboratory for 12 years (1989-2001). Currently Dr.Tester is leading Cornell’s decarbonization efforts to use geothermal heat extracted from rocks at depths to 3+ km for supplying the campus district heating system.