About those holes in the ground …

About those holes in the ground …

The Hatch Centre’s Geothermal borehole field, a connected group of holes in the ground that have water piping inside them, is unique as a leading edge research test bed. The borehole field has two types of pipe, standard high-density polyethylene geothermal piping and pipes with conductive carbon-type nanoparticles which makes it transfer heat faster than the other. The performance improvement from the nanoparticles will be measured and quantified.

Additionally the borehole field was designed differently. Typically, geothermal fields are used as a heat exchanger with the nearly constant temperature ground. They are then connected to a heat pump (a component of every air conditioner) to provide both heat and cooling. Since the ground is a near constant temperature, the heat pump performs better than a typical window air conditioner in summer when the outside air is hot.

What makes the geothermal borehole field for the Hatch Centre unique is it will be used to store thermal energy as part of the energy harvesting research project. In this application, waste heat that would normally be dumped into the atmosphere in the summer will be harvested and stored in the geothermal borehole field. This will heat the ground up. In winter, heat will be taken from the ground to provide space heating. The hope is that the ground will be warm enough that the heat from the ground can be directly transferred to heating the Hatch Centre via radiant floor heating. In this way summer waste heat can be used for direct winter heating, reducing the need to burn natural gas in a furnace or run an electrically driven heat pump to heat the building

Kelton Friedrich

What are the construction crews up to

What are the construction crews up to

Here is a week by week update of work being done on the HATCH project

Update for Week of Nov. 16:

The general contractor arrives at the site
Permanent hoarding was erected around the construction site
Preparations for starting excavation were made

Update for Week of Nov. 9:

The last of 66 geothermal bore holes was drilled to a depth of 85 ft below the surface
Each hole had a U-pipe installed and grout fill put in the hole in to protect the pipe
U-pipes allow water to be circulated transferring heat between the building and the ground
The geothermal boreholes are part of research on energy harvesting (link to article)

Update for Oct 15:

Site preparation for the Hatch Centre Construction begin today
The Civil Steel Teaching Aid Structure was taken down to be relocated
Temporary hoarding will be put around the construction site
Topsoil will be pushed up so that the Geothermal borehole drilling can start

Green Jobs: Combining engineering skills with a passion for the planet

Green Jobs: Combining engineering skills with a passion for the planet


Engineers solve problems. But what if you can solve problems and help the environment by decreasing its carbon footprint at the same time? This is a win-win situation. A career path in Geothermal Power Generation – related but a different application of the work being done at HATCH – may be of interest to you. Canada has strategically aligned itself to provide thousands of long-term jobs from direct-use heat to the installation of geothermal power projects. According to Canadian Geothermal Energy Association: “Job creation and competitive technological innovation strengthen a county’s economy and chances of rebounding from recession, which is much needed in Canada’s current economic circumstances.” The association’s target of 5,000 MWe of geothermal power – enough to power 3.75 million homes – is expected to create:

  • 9,000 permanent green jobs
  • 20,000 temporary construction jobs
  • 270,000 person-years of employment

A result of this forward thinking initiative, the geothermal industry provides many diverse highly qualified career paths, such as:

  • Civil Engineers
  • Electrical Engineers
  • Electronics
  • Environmental engineers
  • Mechanical engineers
  • Welders and pipefitters
  • Aquaculture and horticulture specialists
  • Geoscientists
  • Engineers (Reservoir and Facilities)
  • Resort and Tourism Managers
  • Power Plant Operators
  • Drilling and Completions Crews
  • GIS and Geospatial Professionals


  • Construction workers
  • Designers
  • Drilling equipment operators
  • Electricians
  • Engineers (electrical, mechanical, petroleum, and structural)
  • Excavators
  • Machinists
  • Mechanics
  • Pipe Fitters
  • Plumbers
  • Surveyors
  • Welders

Service companies

  • Geologists
  • Logging technicians
  • Engineers
  • Seismic & Geophysical Data Technicians


  • Accountants
  • Attorneys
  • Computer technicians
  • Developers
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Financiers
  • Investors
  • Suppliers

Policy and Permitting

  • Environmental consultants
  • Land leasing specialists
  • Land surveyors
  • And many more

If you would like to align your career path in decreasing the world’s carbon footprint through the industry of Geothermal Energy, please drop by the Engineering Co-op and Career Services office. Our team would be glad create a strategic job search action plan with you.

Happy Digging, it’s warm down there!

New building exemplifies sustainability in action

New building exemplifies sustainability in action

See all the drilling this week? Crews are installing a geothermal energy system.

Here’s why:

A team of 16 McMaster University energy experts are aiming to test community-based, integrated energy systems through a new living lab housed in a soon-to-be-built student centre dedicated to hands-on learning. The team of engineers and other scientists has received $3.8-million in government funding to invest in the new Research Facility for Integrated Building Energy Harvesting Systems on campus.IMG_1618
The in-house system will serve as a test lab within the $11-million Gerald Hatch Centre for Engineering Experiential Learning. The sustainable, 28,000- square-foot centre was largely funded by engineering undergraduate student fees and private donations, including one from Gerald G. Hatch, the founder and first president of global engineering firm Hatch Ltd.

The goal of the energy project is to explore how a community-based approach can harvest wasted energy. About 70 per cent of energy is lost during production at generation facilities and during delivery. The project will examine how neighbourhoods and their supporting energy networks can be designed together to improve system-wide efficiency while also providing structures with more resilience to power losses during major weather events.


Expected to open in early 2017, the Hatch Centre will also serve as a hub for 5,000 undergraduate engineering students to collaborate on team projects and foster experiential learning outside the classroom.

  • photos by Jesse Sahota