Mines receives $1.5M DOE grant for geothermal research

Colorado School of Mines Civil and Environment Professor Tzahi Cath has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the Geothermal Technologies Office of the U.S. Department of Energy to study membrane distillation desalination of impaired water using low-grade heat from geothermal power plants. 

The grant is part of a three-year, $4.8 million project led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in collaboration with Sandia National Lab, University of California, Riverside, GE, and Ormat. 

Geothermal resources and water scarcity are common features of the western United States. Within this region, low-temperature (<100 °C) geothermal resources have wide geographic distribution, but are highly underutilized because they are inefficient for power production.

A potentially useful application of low-enthalpy geothermal energy, from low-temperature resources or rejected heat from high-temperature geothermal power plants, is the desalination of impaired waters.

Cath’s research focuses on water and wastewater treatment and reuse. He was formerly the systems leader for the Engineering Research Center for Re-Inventing America’s Urban Water Infrastructure (RENUWIt), which is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Recently, Cath and Chemistry and Geochemistry Professor Kim Williams hosted a Membrane Research Workshop at Mines that brought together faculty and groups on campus conducting research on membrane separation processes. As many as 60 faculty members discussed the science and applied domains pertinent to their research with the goal of identifying opportunities for collaboration and program development. 

The workshop concluded with a group discussion on relevant topics, including possible collaborative proposals, additional ways to promote dialogue and collaborations, strategic off-campus collaborators, and the new NSF and DOE focus and upcoming funding opportunities in the area of energy-water-food nexus.


Deirdre Keating, Information Specialist, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 | kgilbert@mines.edu