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Integrating Groundwater Resources and Geothermal Energy for Water-Energy Security and Resilience (In Progress)


Funded in Spring 2020, this project aims to enhance water and energy security and resilience in urban systems, agricultural applications, and military bases by using groundwater resources and geothermal energy as an integrated system. Potential applications will improve military readiness and urban resilience to climate change by providing reliable indoor climate control and uninterrupted access to water.

Contingency military bases will benefit from a rapidly deployable system and a reduced logistics burden. This development will provide climate resilience under extreme weather conditions by using advanced storage technologies for water and energy as a sustainable infrastructure. 


Purpose of the Work: Campus Connection

A major drawback of current practice is that there are very limited tools to provide powerful simulations of surface and groundwater interactions coupled with heat transfer. Existing tools typically require a long and exhaustive learning process. On the contrary, MODFLOW — a groundwater flow model — is a free, widely used program developed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in 1988. MODFLOW has been well managed and consistently updated over the years to incorporate the most advanced coding capacity.

Using iSEE seed funding, researchers will initiate the development of a heat transport model in MODFLOW to integrate groundwater flow with geothermal exchange, enabling a much larger working force to contribute to the research and development of integrating groundwater resources and geothermal energy as an innovative sustainable infrastructure.  Moreover, this development would enhance current U of I research and education activities on groundwater/geothermal integrations and the dynamic water cycle of groundwater, surface water, and the atmosphere.

The team will use abundant campus geothermal projects funded by the Student Sustainability Committee (SSC) and iSEE and a geothermal deep direct-use feasibility study funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and ISGS, then will expand on these projects by preparing proposals to three potential federal agencies — DOE, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Geological Survey, based on current collaborations with these three agencies. 

Project Team

  • Project Leader:

    Yu-Feng Forrest Lin, Principal Research Hydrogeologist, Illinois State Geological Survey; Director, Illinois Water Resources Center at the Prairie Research Institute

    Team Members:

    • Co-PL: Tugce Baser, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
    • Co-PL: Mohamed Attalla, Executive Director, Facilities & Services
    • Co-PL: Praveen Kumar, Lovell Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
    • Franklin Holcomb, Ph.D. Candidate, Civil and Environmental Engineering