OU Researcher Working On Plan To Use Abandoned Oil Wells To Produce Green Energy

An OU researcher is working on a way to turn old, abandoned oil and gas wells into geothermal wells. The idea is to provide clean energy to businesses and homes.

Friday, April 22nd 2022, 10:15 pm



An OU researcher is working on a way to turn old, abandoned oil and gas wells into geothermal wells. The idea is to provide clean energy to businesses and homes.

Dr. Saeed Salehi with the University of Oklahoma said there's a lot of heat trapped deep in the ground. If you can bring it to the surface, it can be used to heat up water and buildings.

He believes existing oil wells could be the key. “Convert them to producing heat for geothermal applications," he said.

Dr. Salehi is working on a test project to convert four abandoned wells into geothermal energy sites for three schools in Tuttle. "These wells have potential for producing enough energy for those three users and maybe more," he said.

He said oil and gas wells aren't quite as hot or deep as a traditional geothermal well. Though they may not be useful for producing electricity, they're a stable source of heat for water lines.

“Using electricity to produce heat, a lot of energy is wasted in the conversion. So why not just take the heat and directly use it for heating?" he said.

There are more than two-million abandoned oil wells across the US. Salehi said many wells won't work for conversion - but using even a fraction of them can make a big difference.

"And many of these wells are close to many of the end-users. They are in proximity to the churches, they are in proximity to schools, farms, factories," he said. “You know at the end of the day we have to look at this as another source of energy. It’s not going to be a silver bullet to solve everything, but it’s just going to be another option.”

Dr. Salehi hopes to have the four test wells operational by this summer or early fall.

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