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The Energy Research Institute turns 50 – @theU

This story is adapted from an article originally found here.

For decades, the Energy & Geoscience Institute (EGI) at the University of Utah has served as a research resource for the energy industry. Today, as the institute celebrates its 50e anniversary, it is at the forefront of new geothermal energy technologies and brings new calculation tools to improve the use of geological data by the energy industry.

EGI is one of the largest university-hosted energy research consortia in the world. The institute traces its history to two energy institutes established in the early 1970s: the Earth Sciences & Resources Institute (ESRI) at the University of South Carolina and the University of Utah Research Institute (UURI) at the of Utah. In 1995, ESRI’s Petroleum Science Division and UURI joined together as EGI. This year, EGI celebrates 50 years of global science and collaboration with Associate Corporate Members and partners from academia, government and industry.

Serving the energy industry

EGI works with member companies in the energy industry, serving more than 170 companies through its Corporate Associates program. The program provides research opportunities and engages members in the annual Business Associate Technical Conferences held at EGI in Salt Lake City, Utah, Houston, Texas, Bratislava, Slovakia, and London, England. EGI has also conducted field courses through the rich geological settings of Utah and Intermountain West and at sites around the world.

EGI’s collaborations, partnerships and special initiatives have led to scientific and technical successes. In 1997, EGI established the Technical Alliance for Computational Stratigraphy (TACS) to maximize the value of fossil data used in geological studies to determine the age of geological formations, a discipline called biostratigraphy. Since 2014, the EGI Oceans team has published several detailed biostratigraphic analyzes of the world’s oceans, drawing on information from drilled samples of the ocean floor and other datasets. In 1999, EGI received the Paleontological Database Systems and Services database from BP representing 40 years of paleontological research.

EGI’s geothermal research team has a more than 45-year relationship with the U.S. Department of Energy, which has sponsored geothermal projects such as the Raft River Demonstration Project in Idaho beginning in 2009.

To date, EGI’s research projects have generated $850 million for Associated Corporate Members. Many of these project reports and an extensive library of reports, well logs, and seismic data are available to current Corporate Associate Members through EGIconnect, EGI’s exclusive member database.

A global research consortium

Over 50 years, EGI scientists have performed work on all seven continents and in more than 100 countries, covering a variety of topics. Between 2006 and 2008 alone, EGI scientists visited 41 countries. International fieldwork reports encompass the full range of EGI science experiments.

EGI’s international orientation developed early in its history. Through ESRI, petroleum scientists entered into collaborations and conducted field studies in North Africa as early as 1973, surveying sites in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, and the Gulf of Suez. ESRI’s research quickly expanded to include investigations and analyzes of specific geological formations across South America beginning in 1979 and 1980. The following years saw an even faster expansion of field research into Australia and Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America and Asia. By 1995, ESRI had worked in 35 countries and on every continent except Antarctica. Meanwhile, during the 1980s, UURI carried out geothermal research projects in India and Mexico.

EGI’s successes would not have been possible without collaborations with dozens of international organizations over the years, more than 55 in all. Beginning with ESRI’s work with North African organizations and the U.S. Department of Energy’s partnership with UURI, EGI has collaborated to increase access to scientific resources and enable research opportunities and breakthroughs. . EGI’s partners include government agencies, universities and independent companies around the world.

EGI’s staff reflects the institute’s global experience serving an international energy industry. The institute maintains offices and relationships with affiliated scientists on five continents and includes staff members from more than ten countries. International voices guide EGI on the Institute Advisory Board, which includes members from three continents and more than five countries.

Towards the future of energy and sustainability

In addition to EGI’s deep roots in hydrocarbon exploration and research, the institute’s capabilities include two critical areas in the energy transition environment: geothermal energy and carbon sequestration. Both of these areas have advanced rapidly over the past decades and EGI’s research program is evolving to meet the needs of the energy transition.

In 1972, scientists from the Anaconda and Kennecott mining companies formed UURI’s Earth Science Lab at the University of Utah and began a decades-long collaboration with the United States Department of Energy for geothermal research and technological development. Since the integration of the UURI into the EGI, the institute’s expertise and international reputation in geothermal energy have only grown.

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy selected EGI for the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) project grant of $140 million over five years. Utah FORGE aims to explore pathways for the sustainable development of enhanced geothermal systems to improve geothermal energy science and economic viability. The Utah FORGE team, led by EGI scientists, completed record drilling at its site in Milford, Utah, and developed a robust demonstration project for future enhanced applications of geothermal systems.

The rapidly growing field of carbon sequestration has become one of EGI’s main research areas. During the Carbon Science Group’s more than 16-year history with EGI, scientists have studied several carbon sequestration sites in the western United States. As science lead for the Southwest Regional Partnership on Carbon Sequestration, EGI scientists studied sites in Texas, Utah and New Mexico. This partnership between federal agencies, states, universities and industry is one of the longest running projects of EGI’s Carbon Science Group.

CarbonSAFE, another sequestration project, characterizes in detail a carbon storage site in New Mexico. EGI is also developing additional capabilities in carbon sequestration to better participate in this growing field.

And after?

EGI intends to build on its reputation as a leading energy research consortium as the energy industry evolves to meet future demands. In particular, EGI extends its research efforts to new areas such as critical minerals and develops a geoscience database with over 33 million wells and 11 million samples called iCORDS Offshore. EGI is also integrating data science and machine learning into new research opportunities. The carbon science research team participates in the U.S. Department of Energy’s SMART initiative to build machine learning and artificial intelligence platforms for real-time oil exploration applications. These next steps in EGI’s research programs follow the same pioneering path that EGI has always taken: creating new knowledge and applying cutting-edge science to the needs of industry.

EGI will continue to research targeted oil basins around the world through the revamped iCORDS Offshore database and module and large EGI datasets with data analytics and machine learning capabilities to deliver value added. The institute also completed the development of the first generation critical minerals database.

Energy efficiency is the low-hanging fruit to avoid CO2 emissions. Faculty experts in energy efficiency, hybridization, optimization, and power grid resilience work with EGI to apply this knowledge across the industry. EGI works on hydrogen, energy storage and solar fuels initiatives and plays a scientific leadership role in ongoing discussions to create multi-billion dollar hydrogen hubs.

Utah FORGE is the largest energy project funded by EGI and at the University of Utah. As wells are drilled, completed and stimulated at the Milford, Utah field site, Utah FORGE continues to advance engineered geothermal system technology. EGI expects Utah FORGE to anchor its geothermal portfolio as it works with its broad stakeholder group to achieve project goals, and will expand into mid- and shallow-depth geothermal applications to utilize the full potential geothermal power that geothermal has to offer in the direct use of heat or electricity. generation.

Research on carbon capture and sequestration continues to grow. The Carbon Science Initiative team creates a comprehensive workflow for locating sources of carbon dioxide, conceptualizing appropriate capture methods, identifying and characterizing deposits, and establishing the logistics of transporting and injecting the original CO.2 in safe repositories. EGI is growing in research on direct air capture technologies to create negative carbon scenarios. We will work with businesses to realize the benefits of carbon capture tax credits as they strive to meet their respective zero carbon timelines.

The success and growth of the institute is due to the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit of faculty and staff. EGI will continue to expand its reach in all applicable energy domains with the intention of having a transformative societal impact. The institute will make the appropriate investments to make this happen as it seeks partnerships with faculty across the University and beyond.

University administration shares this view of EGI’s role at U. EGI will continue its legacy of excellence in energy research by creating the knowledge necessary for our resilient and secure energy future and by training the next generation of energy scientists.

EGI is honored to have contributed to the energy industry, collaborated with partners and served its members over the past 50 years. The institute looks forward to shaping the energy transition to a low-carbon world.

Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion