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Mine Shafts Source of Geo-Thermal Energy

When I think of mining I think of this old fella I know. Comes from Pennsylvania and was a cold miners son. He tells of this cold mines where the men would work sometimes in 14 hour shifts without sunlight. A month of that, as he puts it, drove him straight into the navy. He tells that same story every time I see him.

 

Those cold, shafts into the depths of the earth now may be used for something different other than military recruitment tools for Appalachia. According to PhysOrg researchers in Spain, old mines could provide near buy tows with energy and heating. The research was done at University of Oviedo, Higher Technical School of Mining Engineering.

This is not new science. Old mines have been used before for geothermal power but the problem has always been in knowing the potential of mines. So what makes this new research fascinating is that a "semi-empirical" method has been invented by two researchers calculate the amount of heat that could be produced by a mine tunnel that is due to be abandoned, based on studies carried out while it is still in use.

If this new empirical method is proven, then a number of mines in the United States could be equipped as new "geothermal boilers." Water could be pumped down through the mines at a cold temperature, 7 degree Celsius, and return at a slightly higher temp, 12 degrees Celsius, due to heat from rocks. This would produce energy and heat for any nearby town.

This way of creating geothermal energy is preferable to many others. First, it prevents leakage of heated water into underground aquifers, contaminating the valuable water reserves. Second, it reduces carbon emissions since it is a renewable energy source. Lastly, it is not dependent on the climate such as solar or wind. Exciting research that could help diversify any nations clean energy portfolio.