Thursday, October 9, 2014

Research of supercritical water may bring geothermal revolution

In recent years, a large effort has been done to utilize a heat from the earth. Geothermal companies all over the world try to make another step to this goal. They get started an intensive research of supercritical fluids, mainly supercritical water (SCW).

SCW is a specific state of water which is very hot and under so much pressure that it exists somewhere between water and steam.  The boundary of this state are conditions with temperature higher than 374°C (705°F) and pressures over 22.1 MPa. SCW has several interesting features; its main disadvantage is the fact that it is very corrosive. On the other hand, advantages can be utilized in several industry segments.


Nowadays the most famous attempt to utilize the supercritical water as an energy source is the Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP). The approach in this case is simple; developers are trying to drill a well two miles deep into the active Volcano crater, Krafla and that way to reach 400-600°C hot supercritical hydrous fluid at a rifted plate margin. When this fluid hits the surface, it will have much more energy than fluid in conventional thermal cycles. The result is radical increase of power output from one geothermal well. It is necessary to mention that geothermal conditions in Iceland are extraordinary and there are just a few other locations in the world with similar opportunities. More detailed information you can find on IDDP.


Therefore, for the utilization of this phenomenon is required an improvement of current drilling methods for accessing the geothermal reservoirs with supercritical conditions. On the other hand, SCW could be an effective support during the process of drilling. Its aggressive and corrosive nature can are suitable for increase of the disintegration process. Naturally, the drilling tool with high corrosion resistance is required. This process is mainly suitable for drilling techniques based on thermal approach, such as plasma, which offer high heat flow required for supercritical conditions. 

SCW could be utilized not only in geothermal segment, but according to recent research, using it in the process of material or waste disintegration is very promising. We hope that research of the SCW in all mentioned segments will continue and bring sufficient results.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

What steps can individuals, businesses or world leaders take to address the most pressing and often interrelated water and energy challenges?

To answer this question it is necessary to look at the sources which we walk on. From the volume perspective, only 1 % of the Earth is colder than 1000°C and 0.1 % is colder than 100°C. This amount of energy is available continuously 24/7 without any carbon dioxide or other pollution and practically not exhaustible. Heat under the Earth’s surface is still permanently produced in the Earth’s volume by decay of uranium, thorium, etc. For effective geothermal electricity production, there is a need to drill between 8-10 km in hard rock, where the temperatures almost anywhere in the world exceed 300°C, optimal for steam turbines and high enthalpy heat production. 



Research and development in emerging drilling technologies is aimed on effective deep drilling in hard rocks with the price linear with the depth, which is significant advancement in drilling technology. This enables to exploit geothermal energy practically anywhere in the world independent of the local geological situation. The most promising solutions are drilling systems based on thermal treatment on rocks. These systems provide cost effective and high speed drilling optimized for the hard rock environment. The technologies are oriented towards creation of power generation units ranging between 20 MW to 30 MW per unit, where drilling costs are expected to be less than $1M per drilled km. The main aim of the technology is to bring the position of the geothermal energy  in the world energy mix to its real potential as base load energy and real alternative to coal, oil & gas and nuclear, by RADICAL change through cost effective deep drilling.

Change of the strategy and paradigm of energy production: 
  • Substantial contribution of geothermal energy to climate change mitigations. Energy distributed production to geographic localities where energy is needed and not where resources are available. It provides minimum transport losses in contrast to present day grids, high security against the collapse of energy systems and security against terrorist attacks.
  • Affordability for developing nations, because the source of the energy the “fuel” is available anywhere. 
  • Small footprint of geothermal energy production sites not harming the country environment in contrast to wind farms and photovoltaic large area fields.
  • Safety of the processes compared to nuclear energy.

 
The emerging drilling systems are enabling technologies for future development of strategically important application areas as follows:
  • Accessing new reservoirs of oil and gas - In recent decades new deep underground reservoirs that require significant advance in drilling technologies were discovered. One of the main innovations of emerging drilling systems based on thermal approach is the ability to produce continuous casing while drilling. Casing is created synchronously with the drilling process immediately in the drilling bit zone ensuring sealing and mechanical stability of the well all the time also in difficult conditions. This is a key factor in onshore, but even more considerable in offshore drilling with game-changing cost reduction. Moreover it reduces need for Shale Gas extraction and other methods with negative environmental impact. 
  • Deep hidden water reservoirs and possible desalination on continents - Water wells in regions with limited access to drinking water but with rich sources of deep water reservoirs. Another utilization are geothermal wells for power generation aimed at desalination. Main targets areas are Africa, West and central Asia and Australia.
  • Centers of prosperity - Geothermal heat cascade exploitation economy around each geothermal power generation complex, creation of new jobs and local autonomous economies. The cascade consists of hydrogen production, electricity production, lumber drying, direct building heating and cooling, biotechnology reactors, greenhouses, aquaculture, fisheries, wellness, geothermal heat pumps, etc. For development of such prosperity centers, the franchising concept could be applied. 


We believe that to address water and energy challenges it is necessary “to support development of emerging drilling technologies which will provide sustainable and safe energy for the future.”

Thursday, August 7, 2014

European Conferences on Geothermal District Heating

Interested in knowing more about Geothermal District heating, what it can do for you and what the future holds? Join European Conferences on Geothermal District Heating (22-23rd September in Brussels) for information on the prospective and potential for geothermal district heating in Europe, as well as information on financing, business models and regulation. 
The second session will cover the technological developments and will be held in collaboration with a geothermal panel meeting, covering the Horizon 2020 in 2015 work programme. These sessions will be preceded by a conference on the EU’s Energy security strategy and the 2030 climate and energy package.


Who should attend?
  • National, Regional and local authorities, municipalities in particular. 
  • EU policy makers 
  • Universities and Training Centres 
  • Financial Actors (banks and other investors) 
  • District heating designers and installers 
  • DH operators and associations 
  • Owners and tenants of large buildings. 

In case you are interested in this topic, feel free to register here at the official site of GeoDH project. The event is free of charge!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Geothermal energy can play a decisive role, not only in the Pacific

If the Asian countries would make full use of the potential they have in renewable energy sources, 94% of the energy needs could be provided. But the countries, including Philippines, must initiate an “energy revolution”, states the newest Greenpeace report. According to the report, geothermal energy has one of the biggest potential in the Pacific region.


If we are to reach a drastic reduction of CO2 emissions by 2050, 80% of the world energy supplies should come from renewable energy. The developing Asian states will also have to play a crucial role, claims the Greenpeace report entitled “Energy Revolution: A Sustainable Energy Outlook”. The global investments ought to reach $17.9 trillion until 2030, whereas the share of developing Asian states should amount to approximately $837.5 billion.

The Philippines are currently the regions leading country in geothermal energy production. The installed capacity in the country reaches 1.900 MW, which is the second largest in the world. The United States hold the primacy with 3.000 MW of installed capacity. The two countries together with Mexico, Italy and Indonesia account for 75% of the world’s geothermal electricity. Geothermal energy is mainly used for heating.

According to the latest report released by Earth Times, the global geothermal energy capacity is currently 18.6 gigawatts, states the portal RenewablesHub. The potential of geothermal energy, an energy source free from greenhouse gas emissions, is more than 70 GW and is available at all time compared to solar or wind energy. However, one of the key conditions for a wider use of geothermal energy are new, cheaper, technologies that could reduce the costs of available and also emerging drilling methods (like that our – PLASMABIT).

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

We introduce Mr. Innovation - Ivan Kocis

Ladies and gentlemen, a short time ago, Mr. Ivan Kocis joined our group on Facebook. Very openly, it is appropriate to call him „Mr. Innovation“. Let us provide some basic facts about his career background.


This time, Mr. Ivan Kocis is the President and Chairman of the Advisory Board of GA Drilling a.s. - the innovative technology company developing the breakthrough system enabling efficient ultra deep drilling for accessing and utilizing the vast sources of geothermal energy anywhere in the world.

Ivan is the inventor of five registered patents on field of engineering and ICT. He is research veteran, with 35 years of experience in leading positions within the large organizations and successful start-ups.

He is a member of various executive and scientific EU technological platforms‘ bodies and since 1990 he has hold several posts in Slovak government administration, all linked to research and development.

In 1999 he became the founder and chairman of The Eurovalley Industrial and Technological Park in Slovakia, which focuses on renewable and geothermal energy. From 1992 to 2000, as the CEO of the INFOTRANS Company, he achieved a dominant position in the special government-security market in Slovakia.

Before 1989, he led the R&D of the robotics and automation technology at the Institute of Mechanics and Automation of the Slovak Academy of Sciences. In other words, he led the team composed of 400 researchers. From 1964 to 1996 he published more than 80 scientific reports linked to automation and ICT. Under his leadership and with his participation, his team developed the first ever 16-bit computer in former Eastern block.

He holds the M.Sc. from the Technical University in Bratislava, specialization mechanization and automation as well as the Ph.D. from the Slovak Academy of Sciences. Beside the mother tongue, he speaks fluent English, German and Russian.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Environmental Impact of Geothermal Energy

Strong and weak aspects one can identify when studying various issues. Let's summarize impacts of geothermal energy. In this shot we will write about impact on environment, the next one will be focused on human health impact.

The linguistic origin says that „Geothermal“ represents the heat coming from Earth's depths („Geo“ like Earth, „thermal“ like heat). It means that this source of energy is natural and this heat is primary one. In comparison for example with fossil fuels, there are no additional steps or „mid-steps“ required in order to make and obtain heat. In previous article we wrote that according various estimations, Earth accumulates heat that would be enough to satisfy global energy demand for more than 10 billion years (see this link). In addition, this heat is accumulated either by adsorbing sunshine through surface or by happening specific chemical and physical reactions in Earth's solid iron core. Dangerous products of these reactions (UV radiation, dangerous gases, nuclear elements etc.) remains either in space, outside the ozone layer of Earth's atmosphere, or enough deep in proximity of Earth's core, which means deeper than magma. Therefore creating of this heat doesn't represent relevant danger, no question about it.

There are just three main objections towards geothermal energy:

Drilling issue is comparable with mining issue in matter of obtaining power sources for coal or nuclear power plants. On the other hand, geothermal wells do not require such a long diameter than mining s ahaft or the colliery. It is true that geothermal wells could be deeper than mining shafts, but altogether they require less capacity of soil to be removed.

Cooling the Earth is being mentioned as the second objection. Yes, if we exploit more heat than is capable to be renewed, by time the geothermal well produces ever colder water stream and becomes comercially uneffective. This can be resolved by better customizing EGS approach (more about EGS on this link).

Water issue becomes step by step of an ever higher political priority. Climate change means also the change of global water regime. On the other hand, operating geothermal wells is managed like closed water loop, so there can be no question about wasting the water sources.

In conclusion, environmental impact of geothermal energy depends on how it is being exploited and which approach is taken. But geothermal plants in general does not burn fossil fuels or coal in order to produce electricity. In comparison with „traditional“ power plant, it produces just 1 percent of CO2 emission in contrast with incineration of fossils. In addition, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adds regarding geothermal heating systems (secondary utilization of geothermal power) that geothermal heat pumps are the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective systems for temperature control. Altogether, geothermal energy represents clean modern solution for growing energy demand as well as for steps against climate change.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

From geothermal history: „Hot Dry Rock“ inspired also Mr. Nikola Tesla

Phenomenon of geothermal energy is not the discovery of our generation. At the very beginning of it, in 1852, Lord Kelvin focused his attention on natural heat as an enormous source of power at disposal for human being. On the other hand, knowledge on field of physics had been not enough developed in order to find ways how to exploit geothermal potential or potential of other sources of natural heat. Later, better understanding of thermo-dynamics came, so heat accumulated in Earth could had been started to be explored step by step.

„It is a well-known fact that the interior portions of the globe are very hot, the temperature rising, as observations show, with the approach to the center at the rate of approximately 1° C. for every hundred feet of depth,“ concluded Mr. Nikola Tesla in 1901 on the pages of Century Illustrated Magazine. His article, published at that time, was focused on thinking about various answers to issue of growing global energy demand. Among the solutions also the Sun's heat was mentioned (full article you will find on this link).

Thirty years later, in 1931, Mr. Nikola Tesla stated: „All that is necessary to open up unlimited resources of power throughout the world is to find some economic and speedy way of sinking deep shafts." This is quote from „Everyday Science and Mechanics“, in which he analyzed the possibility of using alternative sources of energy for producing electricity, beside the fossil fuels (full article you will find on this link). Once the shaft would had been filled by water, closed water loop could be established, thought Mr. Tesla. This could have been utilized for generating of steam, which would have been used in steam turbines, he assumed.

Well, in conclusion, developing “Hot Dry Rock” concept is not about „investing the wheel“, it has been known at least since the times of Nikola Tesla. On the other hand, for 80 years since that time geothermal energy technologies made some progress, but the technology enabling „economic and speedy way of sinking deep shaft“ (to depths of eight or more kilometers) is still waiting to be developed. It would mean a huge potential as well as a huge challenge.