Verification of Geothermal Tracer Methods in Highly Constrained Field Experiments Geothermal Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title Verification of Geothermal Tracer Methods in Highly Constrained Field Experiments
Project Type / Topic 1 Recovery Act: Enhanced Geothermal Systems Component Research and Development/Analysis
Project Type / Topic 2 Tracers and Tracer Interpretation
Project Description The prediction of the thermal yield and lifetime of a geothermal reservoir is critical to the economics of enhanced and traditional geothermal reservoirs. Geothermal efficiency is highly impacted by the character of the flow path of recirculated water. If water develops a direct paths or “short circuits” between injection and extraction wells, much of the reservoir is left untapped. Artificial tracers added to the injected water are used to estimate the potential for short circuiting in geothermal reservoirs, but they produce limited information about the contacted surface area of the rock.
State California
Objectives Utilize tracers of varying rates of molecular diffusion. Exchange of heat energy between fracture and bulk rock (matrix) behaves in the same manner as the exchange of dissolved mass. Thus, the project utilizes the molecular diffusion rate as an analog of thermal diffusion to measure the active surface area of the fractures.
Awardees (Company / Institution) California State University - Long Beach
Legal Name of Awardee California State University, Long Beach Foundation
Awardee Website
Partner 1 The University of Kansas

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000075
DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $380,156.00
Awardee Cost Share $95,039.00
Total Project Cost $475,195.00

Principal Investigator(s) Matthew W. Becker, California State University
Other Principal Investigators Georgios P. Tsoflias, University of Kansas
Targets / Milestones Field methods are tested in a unique shallow test site where the problem can be fully constrained. In a shallow horizontal sandstone fracture surface ground penetrating radar (GPR) is used to map the flow paths in the fracture independently of the tracer hydraulic methods. The heat exchange between hot water injected into the fracture and the relatively cool rock is measured using a fiber optic distributed temperature sensor which will produce over 4000 separate temperature measurements every hour. Thus, the project will be able to full test the proposed field methods before they are scaled up to a geothermal field application.

Location of Project Long Beach, CA

Impacts If successful, the research will provide a benchmark for smart tracer application and a foundation for confident field application.
Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs