Wednesday, August 2, 2017

USA, California: GRC Member in Effort to Commercialise Enhanced Geothermal Systems technology

Berkeley Lab to Lead Multimillion-Dollar Geothermal Energy Project

New effort aims to accelerate commercialization of enhanced geothermal systems

Berkeley Lab scientist Tim Kneafsey demonstrates how he places rock samples, from the Brady Geothermal Field in Nevada, into a stress permeability apparatus, which tests how long a fracture can remain open. (Credit: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab)
The Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) will lead a new $9 million project aimed at removing technical barriers to commercialization of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), a clean energy technology with the potential to power 100 million American homes.

Berkeley Lab will partner with seven other DOE national labs and six universities to develop field experiments focused on understanding and modeling rock fractures, an essential element of geothermal systems. Scientists will use the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in South Dakota to create small-scale fracture networks in crystalline rock 1,500 meters below ground.

“We will be putting instrumentation within tens of meters of the fractures and will be able to detect fracturing at a higher resolution than what has ever been done before,” said Berkeley Lab’s Tim Kneafsey - a GRC Member - who leads the project. “The goal is to work towards increasing our understanding of fracturing and fluid flow in EGS, which could provide a significant amount of electricity as a large quantity of accessible hot rock lies untapped across the U.S.”