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Newberry Geothermal Project Will Use Hot Rocks To Make Steam

All is quiet at the surface of the Newberry Volcano. 

The last eruption took place here more 1300 years ago.   But beneath the surface, there’s a lot going on.  And, while there’s plenty of heat, there’s not a lot of water down there — a component necessary for geothermal energy production.

Backers of an experimental geothermal project in Central Oregon say they’re ready to begin the next phase of a plan to create a more cost-effective way of turning underground heat into electricity.

Next month, Newberry Geothermal hopes to solve that problem.

Spokesman David Stowe says high-powered pumps will inject cold water into the well head.  After leaving the pipe more than mile below the earth’s surface the water will spread out to create series interconnected cracks deep within the rock.

“You can think of it at a giant radiator. You can flow water through it.  It transfers the heat from the rock to the water, comes up superheated, turns to steam at the surface and can turn a generator”

Stowe says the activity will be closely monitored from the surface using an advanced micro-seismic array.