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Nebraska begins construction for Capitol geothermal wells

July 24, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A new geothermal well field should supply the Nebraska Capitol with cool air and heat in one year.

The well field is part of the first phase of a 10-year, $106 million Capitol renovation project that also includes window repairs, fire alarm upgrades and new emergency electrical generator, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

State officials have closed off an area to drill wells and route large carrier pipes beneath the street, building more than 25 miles (40 kilometers) of tunnels. A crew will soon begin sinking pipes into 225 holes, each around 670 feet (204 meters) deep. The closed-loop system will keep a liquid solution flowing between the well field and the Capitol to absorb and shed the building’s heat.

“We’re simply using the temperature of the ground to cool the solution within the pipes,” said Capitol Administrator Bob Ripley. “We’re giving off the heat from the building into the ground; by the time it comes back up to the top, it will be cool again.”

Construction is expected to be completed within a year.

State officials also plan to install footings to support a future building during the geothermal construction.

“If the state wants a chance to ever put something on top of this well field, footings to support it must be put in while the wells are being installed,” Ripley said.

He said there aren’t any concrete plans to build a facility above the well field yet, but a first-floor parking lot could help workers better access the underground wells for repairs.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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