June 6, 2020


Connecting People

Researchers Investigate Pumped Storage in Retired Underground Mines

3 professors from Michigan Technological University and Texas A&M University are
investigating a system to retailer power generated by alternate electric power sources by earning
use of unused and deserted underground mining websites in Michigan’s Higher Peninsula. 

If established thriving, the undertaking could deliver a blueprint for providing constant
electric power from intermittent and zero-emission sources.

To satisfy the expanding need for electrical energy throughout the world, two relatively new
sources of strength have dominated construction action in numerous areas — wind turbines
and solar arrays. The advantage of these generation sources is that, after mounted,
they have no gas expenses or emissions and add minimally to global warming trends.

A person important impediment to wind and solar strength is that they are intermittent that
is, they only produce electrical energy component of the time (approximately twenty five% to 33%), as there
are intervals when the wind does not blow and the solar does not shine. That poses important
problems to the electric grid, which requires instantaneous, balanced electric power to continue to keep
provide and need reliable.

 About MTEC

Michigan Tech Business Corporation (MTEC) is a single of 21 SmartZone Incubators in the
point out of Michigan. MTEC is a 501(c)(three) nonprofit organization doing work with the Michigan
Financial Development Corporation (MEDC). 

Realizing the possibility and probable, researchers Tim Scarlett and Roman Sidortsov of Michigan Tech and Joseph Dancy, a Michigan Tech Business Corporation (MTEC)
board member and professor in the Texas A&M University of Legislation, have made the decision to look into
distinctive approaches to retailer electric power produced by alternate signifies. “Storage can give
relatively environmentally helpful aid to the present electric grid,” reported Sidortsov.
“This is a single step in the correct route, accelerating improve towards a lower-carbon

The a few professors work with a larger sized workforce, supported by the Sloan Basis, and
are at this time hunting at employing the historic copper and iron mines in the Higher Peninsula
of Michigan. They are  investigating pumped storage — preserving extra renewable electric power
produced throughout sunny or windy days for use throughout intervals of high need — employing
outdated mine shafts. This is realized by pumping the underground drinking water up to the surface
throughout intervals of regular extra electric power generation, then permitting the drinking water to
drain again into the shaft to produce electric power throughout intervals of need. This method
would be a closed-loop process to lessen environmental impacts. “Pumped storage is
a easy and established system for handling intermittent electric power generation from renewable
sources,” reported Dancy.

Scarlett also famous that the previous mining communities have lively cultural heritage.
In addition to investigating the feasibility of pumped storage, the researchers recognized
the importance of safeguarding the cultural historical past of each individual place. “If we are thriving,
we might not only offer high-need electric power from eco-friendly electric power sources, but establish
a style and design method that builds on neighborhood historical past and identity,” reported Scarlett.

Dancy extended the trio’s study by hunting at the applicability of pumped storage
to solar facilities remaining created in West Texas, an additional historical mining place
that is in the midst of a important renewable electric power construction increase. Texas has its individual
electric power grid, with policies that are fairly distinctive from all those in Northern Michigan.

Dancy presented his Texas conclusions to the North Texas Renewable Electricity Team previously this thirty day period.

Last summer season, Dancy and Dan Jamison, CEO of MTEC SmartZone, visited the L’Anse Warden
electric power plant, a biomass creating facility on the shores of Lake Top-quality, as they
investigated possibilities for enterprises in the strength sector in the bordering
place. Various community brands are also making an attempt to tackle niches in the electric power

At present, the workforce is hunting to protected funding so student researchers can begin
original work this summer season.

MTEC’s mission is to facilitate the creation and ongoing achievements of high-tech value
propositions in conjunction with the community entrepreneurial ecosystem. Given that 2003,
the MTEC SmartZone has offered mentoring, technical aid and other companies to
community providers that have led to the creation of over 800 high-tech employment in the Houghton
and Hancock place. 

The Michigan Financial Development Corporation, in collaboration with far more than a hundred
financial progress partners, markets Michigan as the location to do business, helps
enterprises in their growth tactics, and fosters the growth of lively communities
throughout the point out. MEDC’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation initiative establishes Michigan
as the location to make and increase a business by providing high-tech startup providers
with access to a wide variety of essential resources, these as funding and skilled counsel,
from ideation to maturation. For far more on MEDC Entrepreneurship & Innovation, go to

Michigan Technological University is a public study university, property to far more than
seven,000 learners from 54 nations around the world. Founded in 1885, the University provides far more than
120 undergraduate and graduate diploma programs in science and technological innovation, engineering,
forestry, business and economics, wellness professions, humanities, mathematics, and
social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Higher Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway
and is just a couple miles from Lake Top-quality.