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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

Hunt, Jonathan. Applications of Geothermally-Produced Colloidal Silica in Reservoir Management - Smart Gels. United States: N. p., Web. doi:10.15121/1148834.
Hunt, Jonathan. Applications of Geothermally-Produced Colloidal Silica in Reservoir Management - Smart Gels. United States. doi:10.15121/1148834.
Hunt, Jonathan. 2013. "Applications of Geothermally-Produced Colloidal Silica in Reservoir Management - Smart Gels". United States. doi:10.15121/1148834. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1148834.
@misc{osti_1148834,
title = {Applications of Geothermally-Produced Colloidal Silica in Reservoir Management - Smart Gels},
author = {Hunt, Jonathan},
abstractNote = {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. In 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.},
doi = {10.15121/1148834},
year = {2013},
month = {1} }
  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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