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Title: Development of Models to Simulate Tracer Behavior in Enhanced Geothermal Systems

Abstract

A recent report found that power and heat produced from engineered (or enhanced) geothermal systems (EGSs) could have a major impact on the United States while incurring minimal environmental impacts. EGS resources differ from high-grade hydrothermal resources in that they lack sufficient temperature distributions, permeability/porosity, fluid saturation, or recharge of reservoir fluids. Therefore, quantitative characterization of temperature distributions and the surface area available for heat transfer in EGS is necessary for commercial development of geothermal energy. The goal of this project is to provide integrated tracer and tracer interpretation tools to facilitate this characterization. Modeling capabilities are being developed as part of this project to support laboratory and field testing to characterize engineered geothermal systems in single- and multi-well tests using tracers. The objective of this report is to describe the simulation plan and the status of model development for simulating tracer tests for characterizing EGS.

Authors:
; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
992377
Report Number(s):
PNNL-19523
EB4005020; TRN: US201022%%424
DOE Contract Number:
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
15 GEOTHERMAL ENERGY; ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS; GEOTHERMAL ENERGY; GEOTHERMAL SYSTEMS; HEAT TRANSFER; RESERVOIR FLUIDS; SATURATION; SIMULATION; SURFACE AREA; TEMPERATURE DISTRIBUTION; TESTING

Citation Formats

Williams, Mark D., Vermeul, Vincent R., Reimus, P. W., Newell, D., and Watson, Tom B. Development of Models to Simulate Tracer Behavior in Enhanced Geothermal Systems. United States: N. p., 2010. Web. doi:10.2172/992377.
Williams, Mark D., Vermeul, Vincent R., Reimus, P. W., Newell, D., & Watson, Tom B. Development of Models to Simulate Tracer Behavior in Enhanced Geothermal Systems. United States. doi:10.2172/992377.
Williams, Mark D., Vermeul, Vincent R., Reimus, P. W., Newell, D., and Watson, Tom B. Tue . "Development of Models to Simulate Tracer Behavior in Enhanced Geothermal Systems". United States. doi:10.2172/992377. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/992377.
@article{osti_992377,
title = {Development of Models to Simulate Tracer Behavior in Enhanced Geothermal Systems},
author = {Williams, Mark D. and Vermeul, Vincent R. and Reimus, P. W. and Newell, D. and Watson, Tom B.},
abstractNote = {A recent report found that power and heat produced from engineered (or enhanced) geothermal systems (EGSs) could have a major impact on the United States while incurring minimal environmental impacts. EGS resources differ from high-grade hydrothermal resources in that they lack sufficient temperature distributions, permeability/porosity, fluid saturation, or recharge of reservoir fluids. Therefore, quantitative characterization of temperature distributions and the surface area available for heat transfer in EGS is necessary for commercial development of geothermal energy. The goal of this project is to provide integrated tracer and tracer interpretation tools to facilitate this characterization. Modeling capabilities are being developed as part of this project to support laboratory and field testing to characterize engineered geothermal systems in single- and multi-well tests using tracers. The objective of this report is to describe the simulation plan and the status of model development for simulating tracer tests for characterizing EGS.},
doi = {10.2172/992377},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Tue Jun 01 00:00:00 EDT 2010},
month = {Tue Jun 01 00:00:00 EDT 2010}
}

Technical Report:

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  • A recent report found that power and heat produced from enhanced (or engineered) geothermal systems (EGSs) could have a major impact on the U.S energy production capability while having a minimal impact on the environment. EGS resources differ from high-grade hydrothermal resources in that they lack sufficient temperature distribution, permeability/porosity, fluid saturation, or recharge of reservoir fluids. Therefore, quantitative characterization of temperature distributions and the surface area available for heat transfer in EGS is necessary for the design and commercial development of the geothermal energy of a potential EGS site. The goal of this project is to provide integrated tracermore » and tracer interpretation tools to facilitate this characterization. This project was initially focused on tracer development with the application of perfluorinated tracer (PFT) compounds, non-reactive tracers used in numerous applications from atmospheric transport to underground leak detection, to geothermal systems, and evaluation of encapsulated PFTs that would release tracers at targeted reservoir temperatures. After the 2011 midyear review and subsequent discussions with the U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Technology Program (GTP), emphasis was shifted to interpretive tool development, testing, and validation. Subsurface modeling capabilities are an important component of this project for both the design of suitable tracers and the interpretation of data from in situ tracer tests, be they single- or multi-well tests. The purpose of this report is to describe the results of the tracer and model development for simulating and conducting tracer tests for characterizing EGS parameters.« less
  • Successful exploitation of the vast amount of heat stored beneath the earth’s surface in hydrothermal and fluid-limited, low permeability geothermal resources would greatly expand the Nation’s domestic energy inventory and thereby promote a more secure energy supply, a stronger economy and a cleaner environment. However, a major factor limiting the expanded development of current hydrothermal resources as well as the production of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) is insufficient knowledge about the chemical processes controlling subsurface fluid flow. With funding from past grants from the DOE geothermal program and other agencies, we successfully developed advanced equation of state (EOS) and simulationmore » technologies that accurately describe the chemistry of geothermal reservoirs and energy production processes via their free energies for wide XTP ranges. Using the specific interaction equations of Pitzer, we showed that our TEQUIL chemical models can correctly simulate behavior (e.g., mineral scaling and saturation ratios, gas break out, brine mixing effects, down hole temperatures and fluid chemical composition, spent brine incompatibilities) within the compositional range (Na-K-Ca-Cl-SO4-CO3-H2O-SiO2-CO2(g)) and temperature range (T < 350°C) associated with many current geothermal energy production sites that produce brines with temperatures below the critical point of water. The goal of research carried out under DOE grant DE-FG36-04GO14300 (10/1/2004-12/31/2007) was to expand the compositional range of our Pitzer-based TEQUIL fluid/rock interaction models to include the important aluminum and silica interactions (T < 350°C). Aluminum is the third most abundant element in the earth’s crust; and, as a constituent of aluminosilicate minerals, it is found in two thirds of the minerals in the earth’s crust. The ability to accurately characterize effects of temperature, fluid mixing and interactions between major rock-forming minerals and hydrothermal and/or injected fluids is critical to predict important chemical behaviors affecting fluid flow, such as mineral precipitation/dissolution reactions. We successfully achieved the project goal and objectives by demonstrating the ability of our modeling technology to correctly predict the complex pH dependent solution chemistry of the Al3+ cation and its hydrolysis species: Al(OH)2+, Al(OH)2+, Al(OH)30, and Al(OH)4- as well as the solubility of common aluminum hydroxide and aluminosilicate minerals in aqueous brines containing components (Na, K, Cl) commonly dominating hydrothermal fluids. In the sodium chloride system, where experimental data for model parameterization are most plentiful, the model extends to 300°C. Determining the stability fields of aluminum species that control the solubility of aluminum-containing minerals as a function of temperature and composition has been a major objective of research in hydrothermal chemistry.« less
  • The concept of producing energy from hot dry rock (HDR), originally proposed in 1971 at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, contemplated the generation of electric power by injecting water into artificially created fractures in subsurface rock formations with high heat flow. Recognizing the inherent difficulties associated with HDR, the concept of Enhanced Geothermal Systems was proposed. This embraces the idea that the amount of permeability and fluid in geothermal resources varies across a spectrum, with HDR at one end, and conventional hydrothermal systems at the other. This report provides a concept for development of a ''Combined Technologies Project'' with constructionmore » and operation of a 6 MW (net) binary-cycle geothermal power plant that uses both the intermediate-depth hydrothermal system at 1,200 to 3,300 feet and a deeper EGS capable system at 3,000 to 4,000 feet. Two production/injection well pairs will be drilled, one couplet for the hydrothermal system, and one for the E GS system. High-pressure injection may be required to drive fluid through the EGS reservoir from the injection to the production well.« less
  • The Enhanced Geothermal System concept is to develop the technology required to extract energy from the reduced permeability zones that underlie all high-temperature geothermal systems. Our concept is that injection wells will be drilled into the high temperature zone. The wells will identify fractures that are only poorly connected to the overlying reservoir. Water injected into these fractures will cause them to propagate through thermal contraction, increase in hydrostatic pressure, and reduction of effective stress. The fractures will connect with the overlying normal temperature reservoir, and steam will be produced from existing production wells. The injection water will generate highmore » thermal quality steam while mitigating problems relating to high gas and chloride.« less
  • This research project aims to develop and validate an advanced computer model that can be used in the planning and design of stimulation techniques to create engineered reservoirs for Enhanced Geothermal Systems. The specific objectives of the proposal are to; Develop a true three-dimensional hydro-thermal fracturing simulator that is particularly suited for EGS reservoir creation; Perform laboratory scale model tests of hydraulic fracturing and proppant flow/transport using a polyaxial loading device, and use the laboratory results to test and validate the 3D simulator; Perform discrete element/particulate modeling of proppant transport in hydraulic fractures, and use the results to improve understandmore » of proppant flow and transport; Test and validate the 3D hydro-thermal fracturing simulator against case histories of EGS energy production; and Develop a plan to commercialize the 3D fracturing and proppant flow/transport simulator. The project is expected to yield several specific results and benefits. Major technical products from the proposal include; A true-3D hydro-thermal fracturing computer code that is particularly suited to EGS; Documented results of scale model tests on hydro-thermal fracturing and fracture propping in an analogue crystalline rock; Documented procedures and results of discrete element/particulate modeling of flow and transport of proppants for EGS applications; and Database of monitoring data, with focus of Acoustic Emissions (AE) from lab scale modeling and field case histories of EGS reservoir creation.« less