Free energy from a 12 mile bore hole

MIT researchers have developed a drilling technology that will allow 12 mile deep bore holes. That would allow one to provide a closed loop of a high temperature fluid to run a turbine for base electric power. The rocks at the Earth’s crust are at 600 degrees centigrade.

https://www.quaise.energy/

intercst

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MIT researchers have developed a drilling technology that will allow 12 mile deep bore holes. That would allow one to provide a closed loop of a high temperature fluid to run a turbine for base electric power.

Exciting, but given the impact of drilling for oil and gas on increasing earthquake activity, how might this deeper drilling impact earthquakes?

IP,
admittedly knowing nothing about either process

While there is beneficial performance improvement for getting to higher temperature source reservoir conditions, there is no need to do this economically in most locations as those temperatures exceed the requirements for steam power. Additionally, temperatures approaching those can be reached much closer to the surface in many locations. *

Drilling 5000 to 8000m is more than sufficient to get to high quality (electrical grade) heat. This would only be useful if money were no object, or, if all other means to generate power had either been exhausted (including shallower geothermal activities) or price to equilibrium with this method.

Of note,

The energy is not free, even after capital has been spent. Pumps have to run continuously to keep the system running at high pressure and flowing. Keeping supercritical water contained is serious operational business as well.

I love the exploration and expansion of our technical limits. Further understanding at the boundary makes operating in a ‘safe regime’ even more well defined.

This approach is like that 7point safety torx screwdriver with 140cm shaft that sits in the toolbox awaiting a 1980s German machine that was made for 6 months. Expensive and necessary, but only on rare occasions.

Flashy website, though!

P.S. Open loop systems have their challenges but can be 100x more capacitive per well since the process fluids can reach a volume significantly larger than the cylindrical bore of the well itself.

*https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/geothermal/geothermal-po…

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Inparadise,

Well drilling has been proven to be an insignificant contributor to earthquake activity. Deeper holes are not contributing more stress to the crust or additional weakening to crust base rocks.

My brother did a research study several years ago seeking to find a relationship between seismic activity in an area against well counts to find no correlation. R-square value was .22* with over 40,000 wells.

Statisticians generally like to see a value over .4 before considering correlation. A value of .7 or higher implies a strong correlation.

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Thanks G. There seemed to be several articles implying the opposite when I Googled the issue, but most had limits to viewing the contents and all I got was a few catch phrases that stated there was a link between drilling and earthquakes, and that link could remain well after drilling stopped.

IP

There is a link (drilling near a fault), but laser drilling enables siting in fault-free areas to lower the earthquake risk. The deepest bore hole is 7.6 miles, and so going 12 miles deep will find surprises. And laser drilling can be done in hotter rocks compared to conventional drilling, and so will find other uses.

Lasers might lower the costs of deep bore drilling, and this could open up more locations for geothermal plants. In 2020, geothermal was only 0.4% of U.S. electricity generation sources, while it was 27% in Iceland. Drilling costs obviously limit where geothermal is sited today. There are risks (earthquakes, ground water) that make this a high-risk high reward technology.

---- links —
Kola Superdeep Borehole
“Microscopic plankton fossils were found six kilometers (3.7 mi) below the surface. Another unexpected discovery was a large quantity of hydrogen gas. The drilling mud that flowed out of the hole was described as “boiling” with hydrogen.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kola_Superdeep_Borehole

In an effort to ease fossil-fuel reliance, an MIT spinoff plans to dig the deepest holes on Earth, March 18, 2022
“Conventional drills had difficulty cutting through dense rock at such depths, where the pressure increases immensely and temperatures are scorching. The heat and density of the rocks required frequent replacement of drill bits, prolonging the effort and jacking up the costs. Now, relying on technology developed to produce fusion power at MIT, Araque and others say they’ve solved many of those problems, making even deeper boreholes technically and financially feasible… it might be possible to use an especially intense laser, one designed to generate a fusion reaction, to blast through rock… After a 5.4-magnitude earthquake struck the South Korea city of Pohang in 2017, a government panel there determined that the likely cause was the result of fluid injected at high pressure into boreholes. The panel found the pressure sparked tremors that destabilized nearby faults”
https://www.bostonglobe.com/2022/03/18/science/an-effort-rid…

Measuring the Costs & Benefits of Nationwide Geothermal Heat Deployment, February 2013
“the total price (not cost) of deploying GHPs in every residential and commercial building in the United States is approximately $2.3 trillion”
https://www.osti.gov/biblio/1186828

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The energy is not free, even after capital has been spent. Pumps have to run continuously to keep the system running at high pressure and flowing. Keeping supercritical water contained is serious operational business as well.

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At coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants pumps have to run continuously to keep the system running at high pressure and flowing.

Supercritical coal fired plants regularly keep supercritical water contained.

Coal, natural gas, and nuclear require fuel for heat to generate steam. Geothermal uses the earth’s heat to generate steam.

Jaak

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borisnand,

I think the reasons geothermal for electric power or geothermal exchange is limited in the US are for a variety of reasons. (Note: This has not stopped the Dutch (low temperature GeoX) and Iceland, the Danes as well as many others from exploring and implementing these systems in relatively high quantities - well over 3000 systems and megawatt scale)

Culturally, we have favored cheaper energy power systems to generate electricity and to provide HVAC to homes and habitable buildings. Infrastructure has been heavily lobbied to support ready sources of power from fossil fuels community and existing utility structures in place.

Economically, Geothermal has tremendously high up front costs which have traditionally been subject to the same IRR hurdles of more conventional electric or fossil fuel systems. When the risks are born out without regard to future LOWER operating costs, these types of technology are scraped from the slate at the earliest phases of the project process.

Geothermal, even with deep holes, suffers from the lack of certainty provided by more traditional systems. Why accept 93% certainty when 100% has worked for decades?

As a project team, geothermal is usually presented as a modeled reservoir with many assumptions for flow, temperature and total Q delivered. Further, when pressed about operating costs, these ‘plants’ have no locally sourced expertise for workover, maintenance and operating expenses required. This information must be sourced from overseas, usually. As a result, questions are posed about why the US is different or why x or y or z failure in another state should be dismissed.

We are nascent in the US due to many factors. Little of this suppression has to do with the actual technology. It’s primarily cultural and political factors with a scattering of failed projects littering the way.

However, the landscape is changing, rapidly. Through NYSERDA, DOE and many other state entities, renewable energy sources are being favored for research, development, implementation.

My team recent put a proposal together for NYSERDA that would result in Gigawatt scale implementation on the east coast. This would result in allowing a very large urban center to be essentially carbon neutral.

We have similar scopes in play at universities, state capitol, and other large industrial centers across the country.

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Statisticians generally like to see a value over .4 before considering correlation.

Statistically six out of seven dwarves are not Happy*!*

Desert (CVX, XOM, T, BNS, BKH, ED, ATGFF, NI, NWN, TRP, ENB, WRE, WGL, XEL, DUK, SO & KO) Dave

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