WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that eight university teams have been selected to compete in the 2012 National Geothermal Student Competition. The student competition challenges teams at universities across the country to conduct cutting-edge research in geology, geoscience, chemical and bio-molecular energy, and engineering that could lead to breakthroughs in geothermal energy development.

Through the National Geothermal Student Competition, student teams will analyze the economic feasibility of developing clean, renewable geothermal energy in Snake River Plain, Idaho. A 2006 study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology identified Snake River Valley as one of six potential areas in the United States for near-term geothermal development. The region has geothermal resources with temperatures higher than 200°C at a depth of less than three miles, optimal conditions for energy development.

Three experts in the geothermal industry selected the winning proposals from a pool of national candidates. The process was managed by Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) — a DOE Institute that provides scientific, health, and security expertise to advance research and education, protect public health and the environment, and strengthen national security. The competition culminates in October, when three finalists will present their findings at the annual meeting of the Geothermal Resources Council in Reno, Nevada.

The student team finalists represent Boise State University, Colorado School of Mines, Cornell University Energy Institute, Cornell University Sustainable Design, Idaho State University, Southern Methodist University Geothermal Laboratory, University of Idaho, and the University of Texas, Austin.

Publication date: 6/18/2012