Stanford University
Jeff Tester

ERE Seminar - Jeff Tester: "Earth Source Heat at Cornell – Geothermal energy’s evolving role in decarbonization – in NY State and beyond"

ERE Seminars Are Now In Person

Green Earth Sciences Building, 367 Panama Street, Stanford, 104
Faculty, Students
Energy Resources Engineering

Jeff Tester

Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems
Robert Smith School of
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Cornell University

Monday, May 16, 2022
12:15 PM - 1:15 PM

Room 104, Green Earth Sciences Building, 367 Panama Street, Stanford
Overflow Room - Room 014


Dr. Tester is a Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University.  He also serves as Cornell’s Principal Scientist for Earth Source Heat. Dr. Tester founded and served as Director of the Cornell Energy Institute from 2009 -2017 and is a Fellow in the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and a Croll Energy Fellow.  Prior to his appointment at Cornell in 2009, Dr. Tester was the H.P. Meissner Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served as Director of MIT's Energy Laboratory for 12 years (1989-2001).

He led a study of the geothermal potential of the US, resulting a major report in 2007– The Future of Geothermal Energy.  Dr. Tester was the US representative for geothermal energy to the IPCC working group. In 2011, he received the Special Achievement Award from the Geothermal Resources Council. In 2021, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.  Currently he is leading Cornell’s decarbonization efforts to use geothermal heat extracted from rocks at depths to 3+ km for supplying the campus district heating system.  He has published extensively in the energy field having co-authored over 300 research papers and 13 books, including a graduate textbook on thermodynamics, two books on geothermal energy technology, and a popular energy textbook --Sustainable Energy – Choosing Among Options.  His current research is focused on experimental and theoretical studies and systems modeling of geothermal and biomass resources to recover and utilize renewable energy, recycle nutrients, and provide clean water to meet decarbonization and sustainability goals within a circular bio-economy.


Sixteen states in the U.S. have set aggressive goals to decarbonize their energy footprint by 80% or more by 2050.  These goals present a significant challenge particularly for heating-dominated states where between 20 and 40% of their carbon footprint results from burning natural gas, fuel oil and propane for space and water heating in residential and commercial buildings and for providing low-temperature industrial process heat.  Most federal and state energy polices and incentives currently focus on promoting renewable solar PV and wind power for generating electricity and electrifying land transportation – often ignoring the need for decarbonizing the supply of thermal energy for heating. Moderate temperature geothermal resources at 100°C or less could provide an accessible and affordable low-carbon alternative for meeting a majority of these heating demands.  Cornell has initiated a project to demonstrate the use of Earth Source Heat (ESH) technology to provide geothermal baseload heating as a key component of its strategy to reach carbon neutrality for its Ithaca campus. A successful Cornell ESH demonstration will serve as a model for rural and urban communities in New York State as well as for the Northern Tier of the U.S.  At this seminar, Cornell’s ongoing ESH project will be discussed including, (1) Site-selection and design of an initial exploratory well that will be drilled on the campus this summer, (2) Research on subsurface science and reservoir engineering, and (3) Integrated energy systems analysis combining baseload district heating using ESH with peak heating with waste biomass.

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