It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced Monday that a team from the University of Utah's Energy & Geoscience Institute is one of five research groups selected to study new techniques for developing geothermal energy in places where it's not currently feasible. EGI is part of the U's College of Engineering.
"This is really game-changing technology in terms of being able to develop self-sustainable energy for the U.S.," says Moore, who also is a geologist.
The award is a Phase I grant in a three-phase DOE project known as FORGE, or Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy. If selected for Phase III, the FORGE laboratory would be built on private land and cover about 10 acres. The laboratory would consist of two wells drilled to depths of about 8,000 feet. One well would be used to inject water into the hot rocks below. The second will recover the heated water, which is recycled.
What makes geothermal systems work? Three ingredients are necessary for a geothermal system: water, heat from the rocks (at 300 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit) and underground cracks that allow water to flow through the hot rock. Moore is confident that the granite formations beneath the site near Milford are hot enough, but the rock lacks the permeability needed to form a natural reservoir for the water to flow through.
The wells drilled at the FORGE laboratory would be used to develop ways to produce the underground fractures needed to create large, sustainable geothermal reservoirs for electric production. The researchers would create the fractures using the low-pressure injection of locally available, non-drinkable water. This water will migrate along the newly created pathways and heat up as it comes in contact with the hot granite formations.
The goal is to discover better ways to create underground flow that will allow communities throughout Utah and across America to construct sustainable and clean geothermal systems and power plants. According to the DOE, capturing even 2 percent of the naturally occurring thermal energy in the U.S. would provide 2,000 times more energy than we currently use.