Dixie Forum to host discussion about Utah’s geothermal energy project

Composite image, photo of John McLennan courtesy of Dixie State University, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — University of Utah Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering John McLennan will present an overview of geothermal energy at this week’s installment of Dixie State University’s weekly lecture series, “Dixie Forum: A Window on the World.”

The forum will be held at noon Tuesday in the Dunford Auditorium, located in the Browning Resource Center at DSU. Admission is free, and the public is encouraged to attend.

In McLennan’s presentation, “The Utah FORGE Project: Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy,” he will provide an overview of enhanced geothermal systems, the development of the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) site near Milford and discuss future plans for this energy source.

Natural geothermal systems, characterized by the presence of a heat source, permeable fractures and water or steam, can be found in relatively shallow depths in the earth’s crust, allowing for potentially large-scale power production with a smaller footprint than other renewable energies. However, few shallow sites support natural convection.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the electric-generating potential from enhanced geothermal systems in the western United States alone exceeds 500 gigawatts. To access this potential energy, the U.S. Department of Energy initiated the $161 million Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy project to develop technologies for characterizing, creating and sustaining an enhanced geothermal system. Led by the University of Utah, the initiative will support the drilling, stimulation and testing of two deep wells in Milford.

McLennan has extensive experience in working with petroleum services, technology companies and educational institutions across the world. After receiving his doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Toronto, McLennan went on to teach at the University of Utah as well as the China University of Petroleum. His passion for engineering is represented in the vast amount of research he has conducted and notable awards he has received, DSU said in a press release.

In 2012, McLennan received the Rocky Mountain North America Regional Service Award and then was named a fellow to the American Rock Mechanics Association the following year. Additionally, he has written more than 25 publications on topics ranging from geothermal energy to petroleum engineering.

Dixie Forum is a weekly lecture series designed to introduce the St. George and Dixie State communities to diverse ideas and personalities while widening their worldviews via a 50-minute presentation. Dixie Forum will be on recess Feb. 19 but will return with a presentation from Dr. Bengt J. Allen at noon Feb. 26 in the Dunford Auditorium.

Event details: 

  • What: Dixie Forum: A Window on the World featuring University of Utah Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering John McLennan.
  • When: Tuesday, Feb. 12, at noon.
  • Where: DSU Dunford Auditoriumon on the DSU campus, 225 S. 700 East, St. George.
  • Admission: Free.
  • For more information, click here.

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