Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences

Clemson Part of Major New DOE Research Thrust

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has rolled out a major new research thrust area called Energy Earthshots™. The program involves a multi-pronged approach to harness the renewable power of hydrogen, the Earth’s heat, and wind and to store that energy, making industry more efficient and eliminating net carbon emissions.  To support DOE’s Energy Earthshots™, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) will lead a new Research Centers building upon PNNL’s established expertise in performing the basic science underpinning geothermal energy.  The Center for Understanding Subsurface Signals and Permeability (CUSSP) will advance geothermal systems by making them a widely accessible and reliable source of renewable energy. CUSSP aims to predict and control how water flows through hot rock formations in the subsurface through complex simulations and accurate field measurements.

CUSSP includes collaborators from two national labs and eight universities, including Clemson.  The effort at Clemson, total about $1M in funding, is being led by Professor Larry Murdoch and Research Associate Professor Scott DeWolf, along with Research Professor Leonid Germanovich, and several EEES staff and graduate students.  In coordination with CUSSP leadership, the Clemson team will develop, deploy, and use a set of advanced real-time geophysical monitoring techniques, specifically borehole tensor strainmeters based on optical fiber interferometry. Murdoch, DeWolf  and colleagues will contribute to CUSSP’s goal of achieving enhanced predictability of flow pathways by combining the basic understanding of processes and signatures with chemistry-controlled testbed circulation experiments and multi-physics sensing to directly inform high-performance simulations. The overarching goal is to enable CUSSP to move beyond independent analysis of disparate data streams (e.g., geophysical inversions) to an integrated analysis where all raw sensing data streams (seismic, temperature, strain, resistivity, etc.) are used simultaneously.

Congratulations to Drs. Murdoch, DeWolf and Germanovich and their team on this exciting new research endeavor.