by Kathy Chambers on Fri, September 09, 2016
Fumaroles at Brady Hot Springs, Nevada.
Image credit: DOE Office of Energy Efficiency
and Renewable Energy, Photo by Dante Fratta
In the 1800s, the Brady Hot Springs geothermal fields were known as the “Springs of False Hope.” As pioneer wagon trains traveled across the northern Nevada desert on their way to California, their thirsty animals rushed to the springs only to find scalding 180° water and bare land. Additionally, the water was loaded with sodium chloride and boric acid.
These geothermal fields were not a welcoming place, but that changed over time; Brady Hot Springs could now be called the “Springs of Hope.” In recent years, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) has funded a wide array of geothermal research projects at the Brady Hot Springs site. One, an Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) project, was the first EGS project to be connected to the grid and resulted in a 38 percent increase in power output from brine at Ormat’s Desert Peak 2 geothermal power plant in the Brady complex, according to Ormat Technologies, a leading geothermal company and one of DOE’s primary collaborators in the project. GTO’s Brady Hot Springs projects research results are available in the SciTech Connect database.
Today, the Brady Hot Springs make up a geothermal field that is utilized for power exploration and development and agricultural processing, and GTO is at the forefront of this activity. Six production wells supply approximately 14 megawatts of electricity to the grid. In this special ecosystem, a unique research community of scientists, engineers, geothermal operators and utilities work together in collaboration, sharing data, resources, and goals. Members of this community include Ormat Technologies; Silixa Ltd.; Temple University; University of Nevada, Reno; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Geoscience.
One recent project is the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s PoroTomo project, which is addressing the grand challenge to quantify reservoir complexity. A collection of datasets from the PoroTomo project can be found in the DOE Data Explorer database.
DOE geothermal research papers are available in OSTI’s Catalogue of Collections. OSTI’s Dr. William Watson also discusses the Department’s geothermal research projects in his latest white paper “In the OSTI Collections: Geothermal Energy.” OSTI’s Science Showcase also spotlights DOE’s geothermal research endeavors.