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Notre Dame University is Going Geothermal

3/15/17 11:59 AM

Courtesy: Notre Dame University

It's an exciting time of the year for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as they head in to the first round of the NCAA tournament, but the University is also making news for its aggressive sustainability strategy. Notre Dame is currently constructing its third and final phase of installing geothermal technology across campus to harness the Earth's energy.

The three geothermal systems on campus utilize a close-looped, underground piping network. Since the upper layer of the Earth's crust stays at a constant temperature of 50 to 55 °F year-round, the water-filled pipes carry the heat 300 feet from the ground to the surface during the winter and remove extra surface heat during the summer.

Once the heat is harnessed from the ground, it is then distributed to specific buildings on campus through a heat exchanger. To maximize its energy efficiency, some of the geothermal fields will be connected to a centralized system. This means that if more energy is being produced than one building needs, the excess is stored in the central system to be used elsewhere on campus.

Overall, the University installed 653 geothermal wells in east quad and parking lot south of the stadium, which was completed last year. Phase three, currently under construction, will included the installation of another 650 wells on the north end of campus. The final phase is expected to be up and running in two years.

Once the $40 million project is complete, roughly 20% of Notre Dame's energy will come from these geothermal wells. Although the university isn't expected to see a return on that investment for about 15 years, it has the capacity to reduce Notre Dame's carbon dioxide emissions by 11,803 tons. To put that in perspective, that's equivalent of taking nearly 1,000 cars off the road each year.

The university joins more than 100 colleges nationwide that currently use geothermal technology as an energy source, with the largest closed-loop system at Ball State University in Indiana. In addition to geothermal, Notre Dame is also considering expanding its sustainability to include a hydroelectric plant, as well as several solar projects.

The geothermal process of converting pressurized water into steam requires specific temperature and pressure conditions. MadgeTech data loggers not only provide a simple and reliable way to constantly monitor conditions, but are designed rugged to withstand being exposed to harsh conditions. To view the variety of data loggers specifically for geothermal applications, click here.

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MadgeTech Marketing Team