NETL Group Combines Fossil Energy Research with Studies of Geothermal Energy Potential in Appalachia (DOE)
National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). Now a group of NETL researchers are building on that expertise to increase the world’s body of knowledge on how to integrate fossil fuel energy systems with renewable energy technologies—knowledge that could end up powering commercial office complexes and military installations with heat from deep within the earth.
The researchers are part of an NETL initiative called Synergistic Fossil Integrations with Renewable Energy (SFIRE). Their goal is to find ways to effectively use renewable energy resources—such as biomass feedstock, solid waste gasification, wind, solar, and geothermal—in combination with fossil energy fuels, such as coal and natural gas, and through non-typical cycles, such as solid oxide fuel cells and cycle-hybrids.
SFIRE researchers have recently focused their attention on geothermal energy possibilities.
At the lab level, NETL’s SFIRE researchers are helping to determine safe and sustainable ways to expand the direct use of geothermal energy in the context of electricity generation. For example, SFIRE researchers have worked on hybrid combustion/geofluid cycles for energy-producing turbines. This humidified cycle can make use of low-temperature geofluid water, normally applied only for heating, to generate power at higher geofluid efficiencies than typical geothermal cycles. The hybrids use less natural gas, per unit of electricity produced, than conventional combustion turbines as well as less water than water-cooled combustion-based power cycles. This approach is known as geoHART—geothermal humidified air recuperated turbine.