Feasibility of a Deep Direct-Use Geothermal System at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Andrew Stumpf, James Damico, Roland Okwen, Timothy Stark, Scott Elrick, W. John Nelson, Yongqi Lu, Franklin Holcomb, James Tinjum, Fang Yang, Scott Frailey, Yu-Feng Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


This study assesses the feasibility of using deep direct-use (DDU) geothermal energy in agricultural research facilities on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus to exploit low-temperature sedimentary basins, such as the Illinois Basin. Subsurface components of the system include extraction and injection wells and downhole pumps. Surface equipment includes heat pumps/exchangers, and fluid transport and monitoring systems. Two geologic formations in the region exhibit a potential as sources for geothermal energy, based on pre initial temperatures and flow rates of fluids. The St. Peter and Mt. Simon Sandstones lie at depths of 634 and 1,280 m, respectively. Geocellular modeling is used to characterize the reservoirs. A St. Peter Sandstone model was made for an area south of the campus. Petrophysical and geothermal properties used are based on data from the closest wells penetrating the formations. Characterization of the Mt. Simon Sandstone is in progress and is not discussed here. Extraction and injection flows simulated with different wellbore configurations provide estimates of fluid flow out of and into the reservoir. The models are used to optimize flow rates, bottomhole pressure, and temperature of the produced fluid. Individual wellbore models simulate subsurface heat loss and gain, providing guidance on the optimal type and amount of insulation in the wellbore. Design of the surface facilities will address aspects of fluid delivery, heat exchange, capital operating costs, heat loss, and corrosion. Heat capacity and flow rates are assessed to estimate life-cycle costs and benefits, including the environmental benefits of reducing greenhouse gases and water use and increased energy efficiency. A preliminary analysis of surface configurations for the DDU system (including cascading applications) based on building heat loads is being conducted to identify multiple system designs that will maximize performance, energy efficiency, and cost recovery.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-248
Number of pages22
JournalTransactions - Geothermal Resources Council
StatePublished - 2018
Event2018 Geothermal Resources Council Annual Meeting - Reno, United States
Duration: Oct 14 2018Oct 17 2018


  • ISGS
  • Illinois basin
  • Geologic models
  • Techno-economic simulation
  • Deep direct-use
  • Geothermal modeling
  • Mt. simon sandstone
  • St. peter sandstone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Geophysics
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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