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Title: Applications of Geothermally-Produced Colloidal Silica in Reservoir Management - Smart Gels

In enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) the reservoir permeability is often enhanced or created using hydraulic fracturing. In hydraulic fracturing, high fluid pressures are applied to confined zones in the subsurface usually using packers to fracture the host rock. This enhances rock permeability and therefore conductive heat transfer to the circulating geothermal fluid (e.g. water or supercritical carbon dioxide). The ultimate goal is to increase or improve the thermal energy production from the subsurface by either optimal designs of injection and production wells or by altering the fracture permeability to create different zones of circulation that can be exploited in geothermal heat extraction. Moreover, hydraulic fracturing can lead to the creation of undesirable short-circuits or fast flow-paths between the injection and extraction wells leading to a short thermal residence time, low heat recovery, and thus a short-life of the EGS. A potential remedy to these problems is to deploy a cementing (blocking, diverting) agent to minimize short-cuts and/or create new circulation cells for heat extraction. A potential diverting agent is the colloidal silica by-product that can be co-produced from geothermal fluids. Silica gels are abundant in various surface and subsurface applications, yet they have not been evaluated for EGS applications. Inmore » this study we are investigating the benefits of silica gel deployment on thermal response of an EGS, either by blocking short-circuiting undesirable pathways as a result of diverting the geofluid to other fractures; or creating, within fractures, new circulation cells for harvesting heat through newly active surface area contact. A significant advantage of colloidal silica is that it can be co-produced from geothermal fluids using an inexpensive membrane-based separation technology that was developed previously using DOE-GTP funding. This co-produced silica has properties that potentially make it useful as a fluid diversion agent for subsurface applications. Colloidal silica solutions exist as low-viscosity fluids during their “induction period” but then undergo a rapid increase in viscosity (gelation) to form a solid gel. The length of the induction period can be manipulated by varying the properties of the solution, such as silica concentration and colloid size. We believe it is possible to produce colloidal silica gels suitable for use as diverting agents for blocking undesirable fast-paths which result in short-circuiting the EGS once hydraulic fracturing has been deployed. In addition, the gels could be used in conventional geothermal fields to increase overall energy recovery by modifying flow. « less
Authors:
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
210
DOE Contract Number:
LLNL FY11 AOP 1
Product Type:
Dataset
Research Org(s):
DOE Geothermal Data Repository; Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Collaborations:
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Geothermal Technologies Office (EE-4G)
Subject:
15 Geothermal Energy; geothermal; zonal isolation; reservoir management; fluid diversion; colloidal silica; silica; coproduction
OSTI Identifier:
1148834
  1. The Geothermal Data Repository (GDR) is the submission point for all data collected from researchers funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Geothermal Technologies Office (DOE GTO). The DOE GTO is providing access to its geothermal project information through the GDR. The GDR is powered by OpenEI, an energy information portal sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
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  1. Hydraulic fracturing is currently the primary method for stimulating low-permeability geothermal reservoirs and creating Enhanced (or Engineered) Geothermal Systems (EGS) with improved permeability and heat production efficiency. Complex natural fracture systems usually exist in the formations to be stimulated and it is therefore critical tomore » understand the interactions between existing fractures and newly created fractures before optimal stimulation strategies can be developed. Our study aims to improve the understanding of EGS stimulation-response relationships by developing and applying computer-based models that can effectively reflect the key mechanisms governing interactions between complex existing fracture networks and newly created hydraulic fractures. In this paper, we first briefly describe the key modules of our methodology, namely a geomechanics solver, a discrete fracture flow solver, a rock joint response model, an adaptive remeshing module, and most importantly their effective coupling. After verifying the numerical model against classical closed-form solutions, we investigate responses of reservoirs with different preexisting natural fractures to a variety of stimulation strategies. The factors investigated include: the in situ stress states (orientation of the principal stresses and the degree of stress anisotropy), pumping pressure, and stimulation sequences of multiple wells. « less
  2. This submission contains raster and vector data for the entire state of Washington, with specific emphasis on the three geothermal play fairway sites: Mount St. Helens seismic zone (MSHSZ), Wind River valley (WRV), and Mount Baker (MB). Data are provided for 3 major geothermal models:more » heat, permeability, and fluid-filled fractures, and an additional infrastructure model. Both of the permeability and fluid-filled-fracture models are produced at 200 m and at 2 km depths; the heat model is only produced at the 200 m depth. Values are provided for both model favorability and model confidence. A combined model at 200m and 2 km depths is provided for favorability, confidence, and exploration risk. Raster data are provided in GeoTiff format and have a statewide coverage. Cell size is 104.355 ft; file type is unsigned 8-bit integer (0-255); 0 represents no favorability or confidence; 255 represents maximum favorability or confidence. The NAD83(HARN)/Washington South (ftUS) projection is used (EPSG:2927). Vector data are provided in shapefile or comma-delimited text file formats. Geographic coordinates, where provided, are in WGS84. A readme file accompanies each folder and provides an overview and description of the enclosed data. The heat model combines 5 intermediate raster layers (which are included in the download package): temperature gradient wells, young volcanic vents, hot springs, young intrusive volcanic rocks, and geothermometry. The permeability model combines 8 intermediate raster layers: density of mapped faults, 2D dilation tendency of mapped faults, 2D slip tendency of mapped faults, seismicity, 3D dilation tendency, 3D slip tendency, 3D maximum coulomb shear stress, and 3D slip gradients. The fluid-filled fracture model combines up to 4 intermediate rasters: resistivity from magneto-telluric 3D inversions, seismicity, Vp/Vs anomalies from passive seismic tomography, and Vs anomalies from ambient-noise tomography. A statewide infrastructure model is also provided that formalizes land-use constraints and restrictions relevant for geothermal prospecting and development. This model combines 10 intermediate rasters: areas off limits to drilling, existing or proposed geothermal leases, DNR-owned land, land-use restrictions along the Columbia River Gorge, areas inundated by water, availability of potential process water, proximity to existing roads, proximity to transmission lines, distance from urban areas, and snow-related elevation restrictions. Supporting vector data for the development of each raster layer is provided. For details on the areas of interest and modeling process please see the 'WA_State_Play_Fairway_Phase_2_Technical_Report' in the download package. « less
  3. These line shapefiles trace apparent topographic and air-photo lineaments in various counties in Colorado. It was made in order to identify possible fault and fracture systems that might be conduits for geothermal fluids, as part of a DOE reconnaissance geothermal exploration program. Geothermal fluids commonlymore » utilize fault and fractures in competent rocks as conduits for fluid flow. Geothermal exploration involves finding areas of high near-surface temperature gradients, along with a suitable "plumbing system" that can provide the necessary permeability. Geothermal power plants can sometimes be built where temperature and flow rates are high. This line shapefile is an attempt to use desktop GIS to delineate possible faults and fracture orientations and locations in highly prospective areas prior to an initial site visit. Geochemical sampling and geologic mapping could then be centered around these possible faults and fractures. To do this, georeferenced topographic maps and aerial photographs were utilized in an existing GIS, using ESRI ArcMap 10.0 software. The USA_Topo_Maps and World_Imagery map layers were chosen from the GIS Server at server.arcgisonline.com, using a UTM Zone 13 NAD27 projection. This line shapefile was then constructed over that which appeared to be through-going structural lineaments in both the aerial photographs and topographic layers, taking care to avoid manmade features such as roads, fence lines, and utility right-of-ways. Still, it is unknown what actual features these lineaments, if they exist, represent. Although the shapefiles are arranged by county, not all areas within any county have been examined for lineaments. Work was focused on either satellite thermal infrared anomalies, known hot springs or wells, or other evidence of geothermal systems. Finally, lineaments may be displaced somewhat from their actual location, due to such factors as shadow effects with low sun angles in the aerial photographs. Credits: These lineament shapefile was created by Geothermal Development Associates, as part of a geothermal geologic reconnaissance performed by Flint Geothermal, LLC, of Denver Colorado. Use Limitation: These shapefiles were constructed as an aid to geothermal exploration in preparation for a site visit for field checking. We make no claims as to the existence of the lineaments, their location, orientation, and/or nature. « less
  4. This layer traces apparent topographic and air-photo lineaments in the area around Pagosa springs in Archuleta County, Colorado. It was made in order to identify possible fault and fracture systems that might be conduits for geothermal fluids. Geothermal fluids commonly utilize fault and fractures inmore » competent rocks as conduits for fluid flow. Geothermal exploration involves finding areas of high near-surface temperature gradients, along with a suitable plumbing system that can provide the necessary permeability. Geothermal power plants can sometimes be built where temperature and flow rates are high. To do this, georeferenced topographic maps and aerial photographs were utilized in an existing GIS, using ESRI ArcMap 10.0 software. The USA_Topo_Maps and World_Imagery map layers were chosen from the GIS Server at server.arcgisonline.com, using a UTM Zone 13 NAD27 projection. This line shapefile was then constructed over that which appeared to be through-going structural lineaments in both the aerial photographs and topographic layers, taking care to avoid manmade features such as roads, fence lines, and right-of-ways. These lineaments may be displaced somewhat from their actual location, due to such factors as shadow effects with low sun angles in the aerial photographs. Note: This shape file was constructed as an aid to geothermal exploration in preparation for a site visit for field checking. We make no claims as to the existence of the lineaments, their location, orientation, and nature. « less
  5. Hydraulic shearing is an appealing reservoir stimulation strategy for Enhanced Geothermal Systems. It is believed that hydro-shearing is likely to simulate a fracture network that covers a relatively large volume of the reservoir whereas hydro-fracturing tends to create a small number of fractures. In thismore » paper, we examine the geomechanical and hydraulic behaviors of natural fracture systems subjected to hydro-shearing stimulation and develop a coupled numerical model within the framework of discrete fracture network modeling. We found that in the low pressure hydro-shearing regime, the coupling between the fluid phase and the rock solid phase is relatively simple, and the numerical model is computationally efficient. Using this modified model, we study the behavior of a random fracture network subjected to hydro-shearing stimulation. « less