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ERC helps Mexican energy industry fight CO2

Lehigh energy researchers improve the harvesting of geothermal power

Lehigh's Energy Research Center is leading an effort to recycle the carbon dioxide emitted by fossil fuel power plants while helping Mexico boost its use of renewable energy sources and cut CO2 emissions.

The ERC has signed a contract with the University of Michoacan San Nicolas de Hidalgo (UMSNH) to study and test methods of using CO2 to enhance the extraction of geothermal energy from underground aquifers and rock formations. The three-year project is receiving $1.67 million from Mexico's National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT).

Mexico, with 8,000 megawatts (MWe) of electrical output, has the world's second-highest proven reserves of geothermal power after Indonesia. It is also the globe's 12th-leading emitter of CO2. The country has set targets to cut national CO2 emissions 30 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2050.

The long-term goal is to construct a geothermal plant in Mexico near or adjacent to an oil- or coal-fired power plant providing a readily accessible supply of CO2.

The collaboration with CONACYT is the fourth major project the ERC has conducted in the past six years in Mexico. ERC researchers have also completed projects in the U.S., Canada, China and Europe.

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