After five years of operation, Missouri S&T’s geothermal energy system continues to outperform expectations.
S&T facilities operations staff originally predicted the geothermal system would reduce campus water usage by over 10% — roughly 10 million gallons per year. The system, which went online in May 2014, cut actual water usage by 18 million to 20 million gallons a year.
They also expected the system to cut the university’s annual energy use by 50%. At the end of its first year of operation, S&T saw a 57% reduction in energy use. The operation is trending at a savings of almost 60% per year.
Officials predicted a reduction of the university’s carbon footprint by 25,000 tons per year, and S&T has met or exceeded that goal each year.
“We hope to be even more efficient in the future,” says Ted Ruth, assistant vice chancellor of facilities services at Missouri S&T.
S&T’s geothermal energy system allows energy to be stored in and reclaimed from well fields located throughout the campus. It provides heating and cooling to 18 buildings and chilled water to the majority of campus.
The system consists of 789 wells, each 400–440 feet deep. Those wells supply three regional plants, each with 500-ton capacity, plus a geothermal system for the Gale Bullman Building. The project required a complete reconstruction of the campus chilled water system as well as the placement — or replacement — of 125 miles of underground pipe.
“The numbers show the system running better than expected, and full project payback will be achieved after seven total years of operation,” says Ruth. “We had no issues adding Bertelsmeyer Hall onto the project when it was constructed in 2014, and we hope to incorporate any future new structures into the system.”