Whitman geology students sample rare computer modeling program

Geology Intructor Nick Bader assisting students.

Whitman science students participated in two half-day workshops hosted by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Mark White and Signe White led the workshops, held on Feb. 21 and March 1. The Whites are PNNL scientists who helped design STOMP.

STOMP, which stands for Subsurface Transport Over Multiple Phases, is a computer program used to model carbon capture and sequestration. CCS is the process of capturing waste (carbon dioxide) from sources such as certain power plants and safely transporting it to a storage site.

“This is a sophisticated tool that, through this workshop, we get a chance to offer our students,” Nick Bader, assistant professor of geology, said. Bader coordinated the workshops along with Kirsten Nicolaysen, associate professor of geology.

“No one here has the facilities to oversee a simulator like STOMP,” Bader said.

Emily Tinkler gets instruction from a PNNL instructor
Emily Tinkler gets instruction from a PNNL instructor

The complex computer program let’s engineers model the best way to transport waste underground to prevent the release of large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere, a contributing factor in global warming.

Over the two days, Mark and Signe White provided over 20 students with background information for using the computer program.

“The simulator is currently being applied to problems involving environmental restoration, environmental stewardship, carbon sequestration and utilization, conventional and unconventional fossil fuel production, and geothermal technologies,” Mark White said.

The workshop sessions, normally conducted for professional engineers, gave students like Emily Ford ’15 the opportunity to grasp complex computer concepts.

“The PNNL workshops have allowed me to expand my undergraduate studies to more professional applications and explore future career possibilities,” Ford, an environmental studies and geology major from Harbor Springs, Mich., said.

“Whichever field I choose to pursue in the future, the familiarity and confidence I have gained with these next generational computer concepts during this workshop will be valuable.”