Researchers Investigate Pumped Storage in Retired Underground Mines

Matthew N. Henry

Three professors from Michigan Technological University and Texas A&M University are
investigating a method to retail store power generated by alternative energy resources by earning
use of unused and deserted underground mining web pages in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 

If proven productive, the task could produce a blueprint for delivering constant
energy from intermittent and zero-emission resources.

To meet the rising demand for electrical energy throughout the globe, two rather new
resources of energy have dominated construction exercise in lots of places — wind turbines
and photo voltaic arrays. The advantage of these technology resources is that, at the time put in,
they have no gas costs or emissions and contribute minimally to world wide warming developments.

One big impediment to wind and photo voltaic energy is that they are intermittent that
is, they only deliver electrical energy element of the time (about twenty five% to 33%), as there
are intervals when the wind does not blow and the solar does not glow. That poses big
troubles to the electric grid, which involves instantaneous, well balanced energy to keep
provide and demand steady.

 About MTEC

Michigan Tech Organization Corporation (MTEC) is a single of 21 SmartZone Incubators in the
point out of Michigan. MTEC is a 501(c)(three) nonprofit group working with the Michigan
Financial Development Corporation (MEDC). 

Acknowledging the option and opportunity, scientists Tim Scarlett and Roman Sidortsov of Michigan Tech and Joseph Dancy, a Michigan Tech Organization Corporation (MTEC)
board member and professor in the Texas A&M College or university of Legislation, have made a decision to examine
different strategies to retail store energy generated by alternative suggests. “Storage can offer you
rather environmentally helpful support to the existing electric grid,” said Sidortsov.
“This is a single action in the suitable route, accelerating alter toward a small-carbon

The 3 professors get the job done with a larger sized crew, supported by the Sloan Basis, and
are at the moment hunting at using the historic copper and iron mines in the Upper Peninsula
of Michigan. They are  investigating pumped storage — saving surplus renewable energy
generated throughout sunny or windy days for use throughout intervals of superior demand — using
outdated mine shafts. This is accomplished by pumping the underground drinking water up to the area
throughout intervals of regular surplus energy technology, then letting the drinking water to
drain back into the shaft to deliver energy throughout intervals of demand. This process
would be a closed-loop system to cut down environmental impacts. “Pumped storage is
a uncomplicated and proven method for managing intermittent energy technology from renewable
resources,” said Dancy.

Scarlett also observed that the previous mining communities have vibrant cultural heritage.
In addition to investigating the feasibility of pumped storage, the scientists recognized
the great importance of guarding the cultural heritage of every location. “If we are productive,
we may not only present superior-demand energy from inexperienced energy resources, but establish
a design and style process that builds on group heritage and id,” said Scarlett.

Dancy prolonged the trio’s research by hunting at the applicability of pumped storage
to photo voltaic services becoming manufactured in West Texas, an additional historic mining location
that is in the midst of a big renewable energy construction boom. Texas has its have
energy grid, with principles that are considerably different from these in Northern Michigan.

Dancy introduced his Texas conclusions to the North Texas Renewable Electrical power Group before this thirty day period.

Previous summer, Dancy and Dan Jamison, CEO of MTEC SmartZone, visited the L’Anse Warden
energy plant, a biomass creating facility on the shores of Lake Exceptional, as they
investigated chances for organizations in the energy sector in the encompassing
location. A number of community companies are also attempting to handle niches in the energy

At the moment, the crew is hunting to secure funding so scholar scientists can start
initial get the job done this summer.

MTEC’s mission is to aid the development and ongoing success of superior-tech worth
propositions in conjunction with the community entrepreneurial ecosystem. Since 2003,
the MTEC SmartZone has furnished mentoring, specialized support and other providers to
community firms that have led to the development of over 800 superior-tech employment in the Houghton
and Hancock location. 

The Michigan Financial Development Corporation, in collaboration with more than 100
financial development associates, marketplaces Michigan as the put to do organization, assists
organizations in their development tactics, and fosters the development of vibrant communities
throughout the point out. MEDC’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation initiative establishes Michigan
as the put to make and mature a organization by delivering superior-tech startup firms
with entry to a wide variety of important sources, these as funding and professional counsel,
from ideation to maturation. For more on MEDC Entrepreneurship & Innovation, check out

Michigan Technological University is a general public research college, house to more than
seven,000 college students from 54 international locations. Started in 1885, the University gives more than
one hundred twenty undergraduate and graduate diploma programs in science and technological innovation, engineering,
forestry, organization and economics, overall health professions, humanities, mathematics, and
social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway
and is just a handful of miles from Lake Exceptional.

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