Hot fluid is a byproduct of many oil and gas wells across the country. At least 25 billion barrels of it are produced each year, according the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The hot water has proved burdensome for many oil and gas producers historically, especially with respect to disposal. But research has demonstrated that the fluid itself is capable of producing energy, and it can actually help cut costs for energy producers instead of raising them.
Researchers at the University of North Dakota (UND), with support from the DOE Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO), helped launch the nation’s first commercial enterprise to co-produce electricity from geothermal resources at an oil and gas well earlier this year. UND researchers successfully bred geothermal power from hot water that flows naturally from petroleum wells in the Williston Sedimentary Basin in western North Dakota. The facility started generating electricity for the first time in April.