Indiana school to drill geothermal wells on campus

Ball State University is in the process of drilling wells to create geothermal energy on their campus.


Ball State University (BSU), located in Muncie, Ind. has figured out a way to partially power their 660-acre campus with renewable energy: drill 400-ft deep geothermal wells through athletic fields, parking lots, and lawns.

In an article in the Christian Science Monitor by Mark Clayton, BSU Director of Engineering Jim Lowe said that the school is committed to energy conservation, and that the wells were the best way to supply efficient heating and cooling to approximately 50 buildings. BSU expects nearly 4,000 wells to be dug, though each will be covered up when the Earth smoothes them over.
Each well will be five inches in diameter and 400 ft deep, and equipped with two loops of polyethylene piping-one for cold water, one for warm. When it's winter, the cold water will flow to the fields and down the wells to absorb heat from the surrounding earth, which stays around 55 degrees F year-round. Water warmed by the wells will flow back to a heat exchanger that collects and concentrates the warmth to heat buildings. To cool those same buildings in summer, the process reverses: Water warmed by the heat exchanger is cycled into the wells, where it is cooled by the surrounding earth.
Lowe expects BSU to save an estimated $2 million/year in fuel costs while halving the campus's yearly carbon dioxide emissions - an 85,000-ton cut.

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