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Staff Accomplishments

Geothermal Energy Heats up with Dual Joint Appointments

PNNL and Oregon State University researchers will explore the potential of volcanic heat for energy

February 2018
Geothermal Energy Heats up with Dual Joint Appointments
Alain Bonneville, PNNL (left) and Adam Schultz, OSU

Two geophysicists noted for their work to harness the underground heat from volcanoes to produce electricity began joint appointments at each other’s institutions in January. The dual appointments enable Alain Bonneville, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Adam Schultz, Oregon State University, to increase their collaboration on current and proposed projects, including traveling to each other’s institutions to share their insights and mentor students and interns.

A particular focus for the two colleagues is finding the most effective ways to extract underground heat from the Newberry Volcano in central Oregon. Newberry is one of the largest geothermal heat reservoirs in the western United States. A public-private consortium, NEWGEN, is developing a research observatory on geothermal energy at the volcano, drilling high-temperature wells. The project aims to test more efficient, less costly, and innovative ways to extract underground heat where conventional geothermal power generation isn’t possible. Bonneville, Schultz, and their colleagues have been developing innovative methods that use electromagnetic instrumentation, sensitive gravity meters, measurements of ground deformation, and new computer-aided modeling methods to look under the volcano’s surface.

As part of PNNL’s Joint Appointment program, 47 PNNL staff have appointments with universities, and 35 university staff have appointments with PNNL. Such appointments increase collaborative research opportunities, build interdisciplinary teams, provide access to specialized instrumentation and other research tools, and give students and interns unique training and educational opportunities.

About Bonneville

Alain Bonneville is a Laboratory Fellow who leads PNNL’s Geophysics and Geomechanics Team. He has served as the principal investigator of a diverse range of projects involving basic and applied research in geological storage of carbon dioxide, geophysical monitoring techniques, and geothermal energy.

Before joining PNNL, Bonneville served as Professor of Geophysics and Vice Director of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris and a Professor at the University of French Polynesia. He founded the Geodetic Observatory of Tahiti with support from NASA and CNES (France's space agency). He led the seven-country European Marie Curie Research Training Network on Greenhouse Gas Removal Apprenticeship and Student Program. He is member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences and serves on the executive committee of the U.S. National Risk Assessment Partnership and the scientific committee of the IFP-Energies Nouvelles.

Bonneville has authored 84 peer-reviewed papers and 173 communications in international conferences, and he holds two patents related to hydraulic fracturing. He received his Ph.D. in geophysics from the University of Montpellier, France.

About Schultz

Adam Schultz is Professor of Geophysics at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. He is the Project Manager for the EarthScope Magnetotelluric Program, directing systematic 3D mapping of the electrical resistivity structure of the continental United States. He runs the U.S. National Geoelectromagnetic Facility, a national research instrument center operating 90 electromagnetic land instruments and two marine electromagnetic field/seismic instruments.

Before joining OSU, Schultz served in teaching, research, and university administrative positions at several academic institutions including Cardiff and Cambridge Universities, United Kingdom; University of Washington; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts; and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego. He has served as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation. Schultz has authored 96 scientific publications and numerous communications in international conferences and is a Life Member of the American Geophysical Union.

For seven years, Schultz served as Director of Earth-Ocean Systems Ltd, a United Kingdom company that developed sensors and marine instrumentation for extreme environments. He is highly sought after as a consultant by oil and marine companies. He received a Ph.D. in geophysics from the University of Washington.

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