Dixie Forum to host lecture on geothermal energy

University of Utah Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering Dr. John McLennan will present an overview of geothermal energy at the next installment of Dixie State University’s weekly lecture series Dixie Forum: A Window on the World.

McLennan’s presentation, “The Utah FORGE Project: Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy,” is set to take place at noon on Feb. 12 in the Dunford Auditorium, located in the Browning Resource Center on the Dixie State campus. Admission is free, and the public is encouraged to attend.

As part of his Dixie Forum lecture, McLennan will provide an overview of enhanced geothermal systems, the development of the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) site near Milford and future plans for this source of energy.

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 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. In 2012, McLennan received the Rocky Mountain North America Regional Service Award, followed by being 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 on Feb. 26 in the Dunford Auditorium.