The U.S. Department of Energy has approved a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase 1 grant proposal for $149,900 to study the differential data from retrofitting a concentrated solar thermal array to the existing geothermal electrical generation system currently installed at the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) in Klamath Falls Oregon.

Marc Rappaport of Rappaport Energy Consulting LLC, Ridgefield, WA wrote the proposal with the assistance of Don Jeter, P.E. of Eagle Engineering&Testing Services of Bellingham, WA, and Tanya Boyd of the Oregon Institute of Technology, Geo Heat Center.

The addition of the concentrating solar collector to the system will boost the temperature of the geothermal fluid fueling the Organic Rankin Cycle (ORC) engine that drives the 280kW electrical generator. The new hybrid system is expected to improve the efficiency and output of the generator according to Jeter.

The SBIR program funds small businesses to engage in R&D that has the potential for commercialization. The goal of the project and research is to collect the data to support proof of concept for the Geothermal Solar Hybrid system. In addition the installation of the system at the OIT campus is a logical installation venue which, according to Rappaport, will add additional power generation capacity for the school without emitting any CO2's into the atmosphere and create a teaching and research tool for the OIT "Geo-Heat Center". Since the grant is federal, there will be no out of pocket expenses for school to have a hybrid retrofit.