A new analytic-adaptive model for EGS assessment, development and management support Geothermal Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title A new analytic-adaptive model for EGS assessment, development and management support
Project Type / Topic 1 Recovery Act: Enhanced Geothermal Systems Component Research and Development/Analysis
Project Type / Topic 2 Integrated Chemical, Thermal, Mechanical and Hydrological Modeling
Project Description The University of Nevada - Reno (UNR), proposes to develop a new, integrated solution technique for simulating the Thermal, Hydrological, Mechanical, and Chemical (THMC) processes relevant to thermal energy extraction from an Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS). UNR defines the great challenges in numerical modeling as to (1) dealing with flows and transport in the stimulated fractures of the EGS of largely unknown geometry and characteristics; and (2) discovering the best possible cooling fluid circulation solution in the EGS by trial-and-error numerical simulations. The new THMC will have an adaptive, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) component, integrated with the THMC rockmass model in order to match field test signatures, or desired outcomes in design hypothesis test. The project's main hypothesis is that there are new solutions to heat extraction from an as-created, enhanced fracture system of EGS. The project will develop a new THMC simulation model with new capabilities and prove the main hypothesis by and applying it to various EGS designs including emerging concepts, two-phase (steam-gas-liquid) coolant flows in the fracture network, and dynamic, huff-puff operations.

The project will generate jobs directly in education and many more indirectly. UNR will promote business with the model in the design of new EGS solutions, and support the development of a geothermal energy center in Nevada with REA250.

State Nevada
Objectives Develop and apply: (1) a Geologic Heat Exchanger (GHE) model, (2) a life-cycle model, and (3) a total system model. The GHE model will be adaptable and tunable for a hypothetical fracture system of an EGS for the kernel solution of the coupled THMC processes for any EGS design. The life-cycle model of the THMC processes will serve for adapting and tuning the GHE with dynamic response characteristics of the chemical and thermal-mechanical stress-strain reactions from the rock. The total system model will be used in final, integrated model tests; studying design variations for proving the main hypothesis that heat extraction from a given EGS fracture system can be enhanced; and in an industrial application at a new EGS site developed by ORMAT.
Awardees (Company / Institution) University of Nevada - Reno
Legal Name of Awardee Board of Regents, NSHE, on behalf of UNR
Awardee Website http://www.unr.edu/home/
Partner 1 Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
Partner 2 ORMAT

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000075
DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $1,278,070.00
Awardee Cost Share $351,600.00
Total Project Cost $1,629,670.00

Principal Investigator(s) George Danko, UNR
Other Principal Investigators Jens Birkholzer, LBNL; Jaak Daemen, UNR
Targets / Milestones The model development work follows three main objectives in three phases in three years.

- Phase I: Develop the GHE model and establish the NTCF coupling framework for the sub-models. The GHE model will be applicable to any EGS, conventional or emerging, including huff-puff techniques, CO2 injection, and two-phase flow.
- Phase II: Develop the dynamic response functions to adapt and tune the model-elements in the GHE for short- and long-term fracture behavior, morphology change or degradation, and to produce a life-cycle model of the EGS.
- Phase III: Apply and test the model and prove the project's main hypothesis in support of new developments in energy research, prove the capabilities of the model as an assessment/interpretive tool in EGS application examples, and demonstrate reservoir sustainability and optimization with model solutions for an EGS site under development by ORMAT.

Location of Project Reno, NV

Impacts The proposed project will provide the ability to quantitative test hypotheses for new EGS designs and technologies, as well as reservoir sustainability modeling.
Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs