Coupled Thermal-Hydrological-Mechanical-Chemical Model and Experiments for Optimization of Enhanced Geothermal System Development and Production Geothermal Lab Call Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title Coupled Thermal-Hydrological-Mechanical-Chemical Model and Experiments for Optimization of Enhanced Geothermal System Development and Production
Project Type / Topic 1 Laboratory Call for Submission of Applications for Research, Development and Analysis of Geothermal Technologies
Project Type / Topic 2 Integrated Chemical, Thermal, Mechanical and Hydrological Modeling
Project Description Stimulation and production of a geothermal reservoir is a strong perturbation to its physical and chemical environment, giving rise to coupled Thermal-Hydrological-Mechanical-Chemical (THMC) processes, particularly manifested in the opening and sealing of fractures. Generating new fractures via stimulation results in freshly exposed mineral surfaces that are many orders of magnitude more reactive than natural fracture surfaces and thus are locations for enhanced dissolution and potentially sealing. The ultimately important hydrological behavior and sustainability of an Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) is a result of complex interactions of THMC processes in the rock and fracture network over time, under a particular reservoir stress environment. To evaluate these processes, and to optimize of EGS stimulation and production strategies, numerical models are required that can treat the salient THMC coupled processes in fractures, as well as capture the dynamics of high-temperature multiphase and multicomponent fluid flow. Because the rates of THMC processes are dependent on a number of factors particular to each reservoir, the models must be tested and refined using laboratory experiments.
State California
Objectives Develop a novel Thermal-Hydrological-Mechanical-Chemical (THMC) modeling tool that will directly allow for the analysis and prediction of the sustainability of reservoirs that are deficient in water and/or those having low permeability, and allow for more effective heat extraction strategies.
Awardees (Company / Institution) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-PS36-09GO99017
DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $852,000.00
Total Project Cost $852,000.00

Principal Investigator(s) Eric Sonnenthal

Targets / Milestones - Develop a novel model and high-performance code for analysis of coupled Thermal-Hydrological-Mechanical-Chemical (THMC) processes in EGS

- Understand quantitatively the permeability of sheared fractures and its long-term changes through coupled THMC processes, via laboratory experiments and joint modeling
- Refine and validate the models and code to laboratory experiments using chemical, isotopic, physical, hydrological, and geophysical measurements
- Model couple THMC processes in the near-wellbore hydro-fracture system jointly with large-scale THMC behavior for an EGS case study.

Location of Project Berkeley, CA
37.8717°, -122.2728°

Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs