Thursday, February 18, 2016

New Zealand: International Consortium to Investigate Super-Critical Geothermal Fluids

Kiwis on to hot source of energy (New Zealand Herald)

The Energy Straight from Magma project received $449,624 from the The Catalyst Fund managed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
Scientists have turned to an intriguing place to source cheaper, more efficient energy - blazing-hot magma kilometers below the ground.

The concept is being explored in one of 18 international research collaborations just awarded nearly $5 million in government funding.

At present New Zealand sources about 13 per cent of its electricity from its geothermal assets, drawing out water pre-heated to temperatures of up to 350 C from hot rock deep beneath the Earth.

But Canterbury University volcanologist Dr Ben Kennedy said it was possible much more energy could be found from sourcing even hotter fluids at the margins of magma chambers, where temperatures run from 700 C to 1200 C.

It would mean drilling several kilometers into the Earth with equipment that could withstand the "acidic and supercritical fluids" that would be produced when magma was struck, he told the Herald.

The university is working alongside Victoria University (Australia), Mighty River Power (NZ), Liverpool University (UK), Strasbourg University (France), University of Alaska Fairbanks (USA) and Icelandic power company Landsvirkjun, in a new consortium.

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