Past and present students fund TU Delft Chair of Geothermal Energy

News - 03 December 2012 - Webredactie Communication

Alumni and students from the Applied Earth Sciences degree programme have raised sufficient funds to appoint a part-time professor in Geothermal Energy in the department of Geoscience & Engineering at TU Delft. This weekend the alumni, the Mining department of the Royal Institute of Engineers in the Netherlands (KIVI NIRIA), and the Delft Geothermal Project (DAP) presented the chair as a gift to the departmental director. The presentation marks the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Geoscience & Engineering department (formerly the Mining Engineering department) and the 120th anniversary of the student association ‘de Mijnbouwkundige Vereeniging’. The new professor will focus on geotechnical research into the potential use of geothermal energy as a renewable energy source in the Netherlands. The procedure of recruiting the new professor of Geothermal Studies will commence soon. 

Chair as gift

This chair is a gift from alumni who are members of the Mijnbouwkundige Vereeniging and the Department of Mining of the Royal Institute of Engineers in the Netherlands (KIVI NIRIA), as well as from the Delft Geothermal Project, a foundation made up of students and former students of Applied Earth Sciences who promote the use of geothermal energy on and around the university campus.

The gift was initiated by Duco Drenth, chair of the Mining department at KIVI NIRIA. Drenth: “We wanted to mark the 100th anniversary of the department of Mining Engineering and the 120th anniversary of the Mijnbouwkundige Vereeniging by presenting the department with a gift that would be both unique and useful. And we wanted the gift to show just how much we appreciated our studies and that we treasure the good memories we have of our time in Delft.” Supplemented by a small contribution from TU Delft's Delft Energy Initiative, a total of 150,000 euros was raised.  This is enough for the department to pay for a part-time professor for 1.5 days a week during a four-year period.   

Geothermal energy: normal in Iceland (photo: Karl-Heinz Wolf, TU Delft)


Geothermal energy: heat and electricity from the subsoil

Geothermal heat is obtained by pumping hot water from water-retaining layers some 2 to 3 kilometres under the ground to the surface, where it can be used to heat buildings. As a result of the Delft Geothermal Project, two market gardeners in the Delft region have already switched to using geothermal heat to heat their greenhouses. Drenth: “Geothermal heat is certainly a promising and sustainable source of energy for sectors where a lot of heat is used, such as greenhouse horticulture. However, further research, for example into integration in other disciplines such as heat-infrastructure, energy conversion and drilling technology, is needed to make the technology ready for commercial applications.” The alumni and students hope that, by funding this chair, they will be able to contribute to developing a sustainable energy sector in the Netherlands. Jan Dirk Jansen, Departmental Director of Geoscience & Engineering: “This wonderful and relevant gift makes me very happy. I am looking forward to seeing how the new professor will help to make geothermal energy cost-effective and suitable for use in the Netherlands on a large scale. A challenging new topic in this regard is deep geothermal energy, tapping heat from a depth of more than four kilometres under the Netherlands. Here the water is so hot - 150° Celsius - that we could also use it to generate electricity.”   

More information

For more information about the Geothermal Studies chair: 

Jan Dirk Jansen, Departmental Director of Geoscience & Engineering, faculty of Civil Engineering and Earth Sciences, TU Delft:, +31 (0)15-2787838.

For more information about this initiative by KIVI NIRIA and the alumni of the Mijnbouwkundige Vereeniging: Duco Drenth, chair of the Mining department at KIVI NIRIA.; +31 (0)6 17798107.

For more information about the Delft Geothermal Project: