News

Recipients of U.S. DOE geothermal student scholarships

Screenshot from the US Energy Dept Website
Francisco Rojas 29 Jan 2015

Awardees Aurelie Roche and David Brink-Roby are the recipients of the scholarships and plant to use the award to conduct research in seismic activity related to geothermal energy production and study fluid flow through rock respectively.

When the University of Rochester’s student team won first place in the 2013 DOE National Geothermal Student Competition, they earned two scholarship awards that were presented to the University of Rochester in 2014.

Awardee Aurelie Roche plans to use the award to conduct research in seismic activity related to geothermal energy production, at field sites and in the laboratory. An online graduate course through Stanford University inspired Roche to pursue further geothermal research. The reservoir mechanics course helped her understand how industry addresses a number of the problems that transpire when exploiting oil and gas reserves. Roche, who began her research last fall alongside her mentor, Cynthia Ebinger, Ph.D., determined to focus on reducing seismic activity in large-scale geothermic projects.

“When fluids are pumped into or out of the Earth, it can cause waves of seismic activity, which alarm many people and cause damage to buildings,” she explained. To explore how to lower the risk of seismic activity, Roche will study the delicate balance between fluid injection and extraction at field sites.

David Brink-Roby was the second recipient of the Geothermal Studies Scholarship. It was Brink-Roby who brought the award to the University of Rochester. As winner of the 2013 student competition, he led his team to first place.

Brink-Roby received the DOE scholarship in early 2014, at a crucial point in his research. “To begin my project, I needed to collect preliminary data in the field. Without this scholarship, it would have been difficult or impossible for me to gather the data I needed to support any application for larger grants, such as the National Science Foundation grant.”

The bright graduate studies fluid flow through rock in relation to large-scale geologic structures, specifically within the foothills of Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah. These foothills are the eroded remains of a much larger mountain belt, and contain rock outcroppings that expose structures formed 80 million years ago. Originally, these structures were tectonically buried to a depth of 2 to 12 kilometers and had super-heated fluids flowing within them. Through his research, Brink-Roby attempts to answer questions about the origin of these fluids, where fluid flow occurred within the mountain belt, and how long fluid conduits persisted.

Source: Press Release by the US DOE