Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Geologist troubleshoots silica problem at geothermal plants

15.03.2007
New research provides model for improving alternative energy source

In the debate over alternative energy resources, geothermal technology has received scant media attention. Advocates call it one of the cleanest, sustainable energy resources available. However, steep construction, equipment and drilling costs have prevented more widespread development of geothermal technology. An Ohio University hydrothermal systems expert is working to change that.

Geothermal technology harnesses energy created by heat at the Earth’s core. Internationally, geothermal power plants supply electricity to about 60 million people, mostly in developing countries. In the United States, geothermal power plants supply four million residents with electricity.

Power plants are built where there is access to a geothermal reservoir, which typically occurs along continental plate margins. The Pacific “Ring of Fire” provides some of the hottest spots on the planet for geothermal power. Because of this, Central America is a prime building area for geothermal power plants and draws researchers such as Ohio University hydrogeochemist Dina Lopez.

Lopez recently completed a study in El Salvador of one of the biggest problems plaguing the geothermal industry. That study earned Lopez and her co-authors a best paper award from the Geothermal Resources Council.

The researchers integrated findings from several studies examining the process of silica scaling. Power plants are built at geothermal reservoirs, where wells release steam, heat or hot water to spin turbine generators and produce electricity. Silica, which is released from dissolving rock, is a common element found in water. After extraction from the reservoirs, hot water cools down and silica precipitates, forming hard, glassy deposits that clog pipelines and injection drill holes at geothermal plants. Removing the silica buildup is costly and difficult due to the high volumes of water involved.

Lopez, an associate professor of geological sciences at Ohio University, and her co-authors created a model to better understand the impact of silica scaling and the rate at which it occurs. Their research shows that a combination of experimental field work and geochemical modeling programs can provide accurate indicators of the impact of silica scaling in geothermal wells.

“We used simple experiments to show the big picture,” said Lopez, who believes the group’s findings will help guide efforts to control silica scaling at geothermal power plants. Better control of silica scaling will help reduce the cost of maintaining geothermal plants. That’s good news for Lopez, who hopes her research will encourage the use of geothermal energy, which she says has been overshadowed by the debate over nuclear energy and the public’s reliance on fossil fuels.

“Geothermal energy has enormous potential,” she said. “There are hundreds of geothermal fields in the world, but they haven’t been exploited because of our ability to easily get energy from oil and other sources.”

M. Castro and J. Reyes Lopez from the University of Baja California, Mexicali, Mexico, and A. Matus, W. Guevara, F. Montalvo and C.E. Guerra from LaGeo, El Salvador, co-authored the paper presented at the annual meeting of the Geothermal Resources Council.

Andrea Gibson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ohio.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA sees quick development of Hurricane Dora
27.06.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Collapse of the European ice sheet caused chaos
27.06.2017 | CAGE - Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Climate and Environment

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Touch Displays WAY-AX and WAY-DX by WayCon

27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Drones that drive

27.06.2017 | Information Technology

Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons

27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>