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DoE: US$38m for geothermal technology development

The US Department of Energy (DoE) is awarding US$38 million over three years to accelerate the development of geothermal technologies.

By Kari Williamson

The funding will benefit 32 geothermal innovation projects in 14 states, which will focus on developing and testing new ways to locate geothermal resources and improve resource characterisation, drilling, and reservoir engineering techniques.

The projects will be funded through DoE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

"The Department of Energy is investing in pioneering new technologies that will further develop the nation's geothermal resources, create skilled jobs for American workers, and help diversify our energy portfolio," says Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

The geothermal technology projects will perform feasibility studies before advancing to prototyping and validation, which will be conducted through laboratory-based research and field testing.

The geothermal innovation projects are:

  1. Hattenburg Dilley & Linnell LLC, Anchorage, AK (<US$330,000): Evaluating the chemical, thermal and permeability characteristics of a geothermal reservoir using chemical signatures that are trapped inside minerals to increase exploration drilling success rates;
  2. Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA (<US$540,000): Predicting changes in fluid flow through fractures and improve current methods of estimating geothermal reservoir temperatures to enable subsurface imaging and reduce exploration costs;
  3. Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC, Livermore, CA (<$890,000): Reducing resource exploration costs by developing a processing technique for a variety of geophysical and geological parameters;
  4. Paulsson Inc, Woodland Hills, CA (<$3.0m): Advancing the collection of seismic data from stimulation zones to accurately characterise enhanced geothermal system reservoirs;
  5. Potter Drilling Inc, Redwood City, CA (<US$1.5m): Adapting hydrothermal spallation drilling technology to increase the effective diameter of wells and increase their production capacity;
  6. Stanford University, Stanford, CA (<$680,000): Developing geophysical approaches to detect and evaluate fractures to better characterize geothermal reservoirs and optimise their performance;
  7. Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO (<US$1.1m): Linking reservoir temperature estimates with mineral analysis to aid discovery of unknown geothermal resources;
  8. Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO (<US$630,000): Developing an advanced processing framework for survey data to reduce the cost of geothermal exploration;
  9. University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI (<US$980,000): Developing a new geophysical inversion and analysis procedure to map the subsurface structure of a geothermal prospect and lower exploration costs;
  10. Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID (<US$1.0m): Seeking to achieve increased accuracy in predicting reservoir temperatures in order to lower exploration costs;
  11. FastCAP Systems Corporation, Boston, MA (<US$2.2m): Enabling controlled pressure and directional drilling in high-temperature geothermal exploration wells to facilitate more economical identification of geothermal resources;
  12. Applied Technology Associates, Albuquerque, NM (<US$1.5m): Using a sensor to facilitate simultaneous measurement of multiple wave velocities and directions to improve reservoir observation and monitoring;
  13. Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM (<US$1.0m): Allowing for more accurate imaging of seismic data through the development of an advanced processing technique;
  14. Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM (<US$1.6m): Reducing the cost of geothermal energy by developing an innovative method that combines high pressure impulses and thermal gradients to drill through hard rock;
  15. Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM (<US$400,000): Developing an environmentally-friendly material that will temporarily isolate sections of the wellbore to control zones of injection and production at high temperatures and pressures, lowering completion costs;
  16. Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM (<US$340,000): Assessing the feasibility of using state-of-the-art sensors and components to accurately determine the direction and orientation of a geothermal well in real-time in order to lower drilling costs;
  17. University of Nevada, Reno, NV (<US$380,000): Using an advanced method to identify faults and characterise reservoirs resulting in lower exploration costs;
  18. Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY (<US$300,000): Developing a multi-functional cement to protect geothermal wellbores against common geothermal failure risks such as thermal cycling, thermal expansion, and corrosion;
  19. Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY (<US$300,000): Optimising a temporary sealer compound to address fluid loss encountered while drilling;
  20. Clean Tech Innovations LLC, Bartlesville, OK (<US$500,000): Modifying a gel that can tolerate the high temperatures and high pressures encountered in geothermal wells to provide isolation of lost circulation zones and reduce drilling costs;
  21. Impact Technologies, Tulsa, OK (<US$1.0m): Examining the feasibility of employing intense radiation technology to drill and seal off the walls of geothermal wells in order to reduce drilling costs;
  22. National Energy Technology Laboratory, Albany, OR (<US$770,000): Enabling efficient reservoir creation by monitoring enhanced geothermal system reservoirs before and after stimulation using recently developed advanced geophysical techniques combined with geologic and geochemical analyses;
  23. Atlas Copco Secoroc LLC, Ft. Loudon, PA (<US$3.4m): Enabling drilling at the high temperatures encountered in deep geothermal wells;
  24. National Energy Technology Laboratory, Pittsburgh, PA (<US$1.0m): Reducing the cost of reservoir development using an integrated experimental and modelling programme to anticipate geochemical reactions in enhanced geothermal system processes;
  25. Temple University, Philadelphia, PA (<US$1.5m): Employing new techniques to better interpret the shape, volume and evolution of a stimulated reservoir and optimise its performance;
  26. Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations Inc, Houston, TX (<US$5.0m): Developing downhole systems for continuous real-time data logging of high temperature wells to allow for more efficient drilling and reduced well costs;
  27. Bell Geospace Inc, Houston, TX (<US$1.0m): Testing two airborne geophysical survey technologies with the potential to lower geothermal exploration costs;
  28. Geothermal Expandables LLC, Houston, TX (<US$1.5m): Improving upon existing casing designs by increasing the effective diameter of production wells allowing for additional fluid flow and geothermal power production;
  29. University of Texas, Austin, TX (<US$990,000): Developing seismic data processing technologies to locate fractures in a more cost effective manner and lower exploration costs;
  30. University of Texas, Austin, TX (<US$700,000): Developing and testing an integrated exploration method to increase geothermal exploration drilling success rates;
  31. University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT (<US$990,000): Combining several geophysical techniques into an integrative method for identifying blind, high temperature geothermal resources, thereby lowering exploration costs; and
  32. University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT (<US$1.0m): Improving the prediction of permeability and temperature at depth and lower geothermal exploration costs.

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