A test well at Beaty-Warren Middle School could yield valuable information for a geothermal project there.
Dr. Norbert Kennerknecht, director of buildings and grounds for the Warren County School District, said drilling for the well began on Monday and was finished by Tuesday. The geothermal heating and cooling for a section of the building is part of the $16.2 million Qualified Zone Academy Bond for renovations at the school.
The test well runs 450 feet deep, Kennerknecht said, and tubing is inserted to test conductivity. Once the data comes in from the testing, he said the design can be finished for the geothermal system.
Times Observer photo by Colin Kyler
Workers drill for a test well at Beaty on Monday.
"We hope to learn how many wells we'll need," Kennerknecht said.
Building the system would take approximately 18 months to complete, Kennerknecht said, and the district will bid the project by June 5, and hopefully award the bid before the end of the month.
The number of geothermal wells needed is in the range of eight to 15, Kennerknecht said, with some schools in Erie using as many as 100 wells for the whole school. Only the first floor of Beaty in front will be heated and cooled by the system, with the rest of the building relying on traditional methods.
In talking with the drillers, Kennerknecht said one told him he has four geothermal wells at his house. They paid for themselves within four years, he said, and the Beaty system should save 25 percent to 50 percent on energy costs depending on the results of testing.
The system works by taking water from underground where the temperature is constant into the building to heat it in the winter, Kennerknecht said, and then taking warm air out of the building and putting it into the ground during the summer. Students will also learn from the process, he said, by monitoring the system through televisions.
"Students will be able to see the temperature difference going in and coming out," Kennerknecht said. "They can monitor the savings."
It will serve as an important learning tool, Kennerknecht said, because future generations of students may see every house around use geothermal systems due to their efficiency. Early exposure could give them ideas to build on, he said.