With an average life span of 30-40 years, the cement around geothermal production wells eventually cracks over time. Because wells with cracked cement are vulnerable to leakage, reduced strength, and corrosion, it's important to repair them in a timely fashion. However, repairs can easily top $1.5 million dollars; the cost of new materials, excavation, installation, and halting power production adds up fast.
Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) developed cement that can heal itself when cracks occur. Using self-healing cement for geothermal wells would save geothermal plants millions of dollars and would reduce the amount of downtime necessary for repairs.