Editor’s Note: In recent days, the City of Oneonta and the Town of Oneonta have contracted with consultant Jay Egg of Egg Geothermal, Kissimmee, Fla., to study incorporating municipal-heating systems into water projects. The idea is energy from the earth’s depths can be tapped to heat Otsego County’s homes and businesses. Interesting. But how does it work? Here’s how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains the process on a web site aimed at kids. It may help we adults figure it out.
HERE’S HOW GEOTHERMAL HEATS YOUR HOME
1. Water or a refrigerant moves through a loop of pipes.
2. When the weather is cold, the water or refrigerant heats up as it travels through the part of the loop that’s buried underground.
3. Once it gets back above ground, the warmed water or refrigerant transfers heat into the building.
4. The water or refrigerant cools down after its heat is transferred. It is pumped back underground where it heats up once more, starting the process again.
5. On a hot day, the system can run in reverse. The water or refrigerant cools the building and then is pumped underground where extra heat is transferred to the ground around the pipes.
HERE’S HOW GEOTHERMAL RUNS POWER PLANT
1. Hot water is pumped from deep underground through a well under high pressure.
2. When the water reaches the surface, the pressure is dropped, which causes the water to turn into steam.
3. The steam spins a turbine, which is connected to a generator that produces electricity.
4. The steam cools off in a cooling tower and condenses back to water.
5. The cooled water is pumped back into the Earth to begin the process again.