Missouri Tech School Ditching Coal, Wood

Since 1945, they’ve been heating most of the buildings at the Missouri University of Science & Technology, in Rolla, by burning coal and wood chips to make steam. That just doesn’t seem right, not in 2010 and not for a university that says its “graduates are poised to lead the new global, green economy.”

But change is on the way: University administrators at the state level have approved a $32.4 million bond issue to finance a new geothermal project that will reduce campus carbon dioxide emissions by 25,000 tons per year and eventually $2.8 million a year in energy costs.

Geothermal, how it works

image via New York Energy Research and Development Authority

The university said it intends to issue the bonds for sale in the days ahead, and that the geothermal plant will take about five years to build.

Details on the Missouri S&T project weren’t included in the press release, but geothermal systems generally work by taking advantage of the constant, mild temperature of the ground to transfer heat up in the winter and absorb heat from above ground in the summer.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.