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Techno-Economic Modeling of Low-Grade Geothermal Energy Systems

Researcher: Koenraad Beckers
Principal Investigator: Professor Jefferson Tester

My first research project is a techno-economic analysis of electricity and heat production using Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). This project is centered on the development and testing of a new computer-based model GEOPHIRES (GEOthermal energy for the Production of Heat and electricity ("IR") Economically Simulated) to estimate the levelized cost of heat and/or electricity from EGS (see Figure 1 for screenshot of GEOPHIRES). In collaboration with other researchers in our group, GEOPHIRES has been used to assess the feasibility of EGS district heating systems in the Northeastern United States.

My second research project is an in-depth study of geothermal heat pumps. One aspect is the analysis in collaboration with Verizon Wireless of the potential of using geothermal heat pumps to provide climate control of cellular tower shelters. A full-scale experimental project has been built on the Cornell campus during the summer of 2013 (see Figures 2). A second aspect is the experimental monitoring of a residential geothermal heat pump system in Ithaca, NY with horizontal slinky-coil heat exchangers (Figure 3). Real-time data collection started in the summer of 2012. A third aspect of my research involves analytical and numerical modeling of the transient temperature behavior of vertical and horizontal subsurface reservoirs, serving as ground source heat exchangers. A fourth and final aspect is the analysis of hybrid systems utilizing seasonal energy capture and storage.

Geophires GUI

Figure 1: GUI of GEOPHIRES.

Verizon Project Shelter

Figure 2: Verizon project shelter.

Residential Heat Pump System

Figure 3: Temperature sensor at slinky-coil heat Exchanger of residential heat pump system.