College of Engineering & Mines

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Upcoming LEEPS lecture to feature Jefferson Tester, Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems at Cornell University

Next LEEPS guest speaker Jefferson Tester will speak at UND on April 12

On April 12, Jefferson Tester, Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems at Cornell University, will be the next Leading Edge of Earth & Planetary Sciences Lecture Series (LEEPS) guest speaker at UND. At 12:20 p.m. in the Leonard Hall Lecture Bowl (Room 100), Dr. Tester will present his presentation, “How advances in subsurface science and engineering will accelerate the development of geothermal district heating.”

The presentation is open to the public. LEEPS is proudly presented by the Harold Hamm School of Geology & Geological Engineering.

Presentation Abstract

Space and water heating in residential and commercial buildings and low-temperature industrial process heat in New York State is provided primarily by the combustion of fossil fuels (natural gas, fuel oil and propane) in furnaces and boilers. As a result, heating currently accounts for about 40% of the State’s carbon footprint. To reach New York’s aspirational goal of achieving carbon-neutrality by 2050, a transformation of its heating systems is necessary. Since 2010, Cornell has been evaluating using Earth Source Heat (ESH) for providing carbon-neutral heating for its campus. The basic idea of Cornell’s ESH project is to circulate water through fractured regions of deep hot rock containing naturally-stored heat at sufficiently high temperatures to supply thermal energy to the campus district energy network. With its high baseload winter heating demand of about 50 MW(thermal), a successful demonstration of geothermal heating at Cornell would also serve as a representative and scalable model for carbon-neutral heating in many rural and urban communities located elsewhere. Last year, Cornell’s Earth Source Heat (ESH) project took an important step forward. Starting in June through August 2022, an exploration well was drilled to a depth of 3 km (TD = 9790.5 ft). The exploration well is formally called the Cornell University Borehole Observatory or CUBO. At this seminar, Cornell’s ongoing project research and analysis will be discussed including: (1) subsurface characterization, (2) reservoir design and heat extraction modeling, (3) combining baseload district heating using ESH with peak heating using renewable natural gas from waste biomass into Cornell’s energy system infrastructure, (4) technical and economic objectives, and (5) site-selection and design of an initial exploratory well on campus.

About Dr. Tester

Dr. Tester is a Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems in the Smith 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 of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and a Croll Energy Fellow. He led a study of the geothermal potential of the U.S., resulting in a major report in 2007– The Future of Geothermal Energy. Dr. Tester was the U.S. 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.

Several decades old, the Leading Edge of Earth & Planetary Sciences Lecture Series invites guest speakers to the College of Engineering & Mines, sharing valuable expertise with students and the community. Photo by Paige Prekker/UND College of Engineering & Mines.


Since 1988, the Harold Hamm School of Geology & Geological Engineering at UND has been organizing the Leading Edge of Earth & Planetary Sciences Lecture Series (LEEPS). This lecture series has welcomed +220 scientists from various colleges, universities and industries worldwide to share their knowledge and expertise with the UND community. The main goal of LEEPS is to provide firsthand information and encourage critical thinking on current topics related to Earth science. The series coordinates with the school’s Essential Studies communication courses, which help students gain a broader perspective in their field of study. The invited speakers usually interact with students to discuss their research and career paths, providing valuable insights and inspiration.

For any questions, please contact Will Gosnold, Professor of Geology & Geological Engineering.