First geothermal energy map of the USA now in Google

Via Slashdot, drill baby drill, but for heat, not oil.

The Google funded Enhanced Geothermal Systems research at the Southern Methodist University has produced a coast-to-coast geothermal potential map of the United States. Having invested over $10 million on geothermal energy, Google seems to believe that it is our best bet at kicking the oil habit (especially now that nuclear power has suddenly become disproportionately unpopular).

Details and how to view it:

DALLAS (SMU) – New research from SMU’s Geothermal Laboratory, funded by a grant from Google.org, documents significant geothermal resources across the United States capable of producing more than three million megawatts of green power – 10 times the installed capacity of coal power plants today.

Sophisticated mapping produced from the research, viewable via Google Earth at www.google.org/egs, demonstrates that vast reserves of this green, renewable source of power generated from the Earth’s heat are realistically accessible using current technology.

The results of the new research, from SMU Hamilton Professor of Geophysics David Blackwell and Geothermal Lab Coordinator Maria Richards, confirm and refine locations for resources capable of supporting large-scale commercial geothermal energy production under a wide range of geologic conditions, including significant areas in the eastern two-thirds of the United States. The estimated amounts and locations of heat stored in the Earth’s crust included in this study are based on nearly 35,000 data sites – approximately twice the number used for Blackwell and Richards’ 2004 Geothermal Map of North America, leading to improved detail and contouring at a regional level.

Based on the additional data, primarily drawn from oil and gas drilling, larger local variations can be seen in temperatures at depth, highlighting more detail for potential power sites than was previously evident in the eastern portion of the U.S.  For example, eastern West Virginia has been identified as part of a larger Appalachian trend of higher heat flow and temperature.

Conventional U.S. geothermal production has been restricted largely to the western third of the country in geographically unique and tectonically active locations.  For instance, The Geysers Field north of San Francisco is home to more than a dozen large power plants that have been tapping naturally occurring steam reservoirs to produce electricity for more than 40 years.

However, newer technologies and drilling methods can now be used to develop resources in a wider range of geologic conditions, allowing reliable production of clean energy at temperatures as low as 100˚C (212˚F) – and in regions not previously considered suitable for geothermal energy production. Preliminary data released from the SMU study in October 2010 revealed the existence of a geothermal resource under the state of West Virginia equivalent to the state’s existing (primarily coal-based) power supply.

“Once again, SMU continues its pioneering work in demonstrating the tremendous potential of geothermal resources,” said Karl Gawell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association. “Both Google and the SMU researchers are fundamentally changing the way we look at how we can use the heat of the Earth to meet our energy needs, and by doing so are making significant contributions to enhancing our national security and environmental quality.”

“This assessment of geothermal potential will only improve with time,” said Blackwell.  “Our study assumes that we tap only a small fraction of the available stored heat in the Earth’s crust, and our capabilities to capture that heat are expected to grow substantially as we improve upon the energy conversion and exploitation factors through technological advances and improved techniques.”

Blackwell is releasing a paper with details of the results of the research to the Geothermal Resources Council on October 25, 2011.

Blackwell and Richards first produced the 2004 Geothermal Map of North America using oil and gas industry data from the central U.S.  Blackwell and the 2004 map played a significant role in a 2006 Future of Geothermal Energy study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy that concluded geothermal energy had the potential to supply a substantial portion of the future U.S. electricity needs, likely at competitive prices and with minimal environmental impact. SMU’s 2004 map has been the national standard for evaluating heat flow, temperature and thermal conductivity for potential geothermal energy projects.

In this newest SMU estimate of resource potential, researchers used additional temperature data and in-depth geological analysis for the resulting heat flow maps to create the updated temperature-at-depth maps from 3.5 kilometers to 9.5 kilometers (11,500 to 31,000 feet). This update revealed that some conditions in the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. are actually hotter than some areas in the western portion of the country, an area long-recognized for heat-producing tectonic activity. In determining the potential for geothermal production, the new SMU study considers the practical considerations of drilling, and limits the analysis to the heat available in the top 6.5 km (21,500 ft.) of crust for predicting megawatts of available power. This approach incorporates a newly proposed international standard for estimating geothermal resource potential that considers added practical limitations of development, such as the inaccessibility of large urban areas and national parks.  Known as the ‘technical potential’ value, it assumes producers tap only 14 percent of the ‘theoretical potential’ of stored geothermal heat in the U.S., using currently available technology.

Three recent technological developments already have sparked geothermal development in areas with little or no tectonic activity or volcanism:

  1. Low Temperature Hydrothermal – Energy is produced from areas with naturally occurring high fluid volumes at temperatures ranging from less than boiling to 150°C (300°F). This application is currently producing energy in Alaska, Oregon, Idaho and Utah.
  2. Geopressure and Coproduced Fluids Geothermal – Oil and/or natural gas are produced together with electricity generated from hot geothermal fluids drawn from the same well. Systems are installed or being installed in Wyoming, North Dakota, Utah, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
  3. Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) – Areas with low fluid content, but high temperatures of more than 150°C (300°F), are “enhanced” with injection of fluid and other reservoir engineering techniques. EGS resources are typically deeper than hydrothermal and represent the largest share of total geothermal resources capable of supporting larger capacity power plants.

A key goal in the SMU resource assessment was to aid in evaluating these nonconventional geothermal resources on a regional to sub-regional basis.

Areas of particular geothermal interest include the Appalachian trend (Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, to northern Louisiana), the aquifer heated area of South Dakota, and the areas of radioactive basement granites beneath sediments such as those found in northern Illinois and northern Louisiana. The Gulf Coast continues to be outlined as a huge resource area and a promising sedimentary basin for development. The Raton Basin in southeastern Colorado possesses extremely high temperatures and is being evaluated by the State of Colorado along with an area energy company.

SMU’s Geothermal Laboratory in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences conducted this research through funding provided by Google.org, which is dedicated to using the power of information and innovation to advance breakthrough technologies in clean energy.


Editor’s Note: To explore the new Enhanced Geothermal Systems maps built on SMU’s research via Google Earth, you will need to download the latest version of Google Earth here and then download and open the file at http://www.google.org/egs/downloads/EGSPotential.kmz.

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115 Responses to First geothermal energy map of the USA now in Google

  1. Keith says:

    Where’s the best potential source? Yellowstone of course – stands out like a sore thumb. Will any development be allowed there? Like heck.

  2. Bengt Abelsson says:

    There has been at least two major holes drilled in Sweden, but with little result – good luck!

  3. temp says:

    If google loves it so much, let them invest and build the power plants and make millions/billions/trillions off the power… not off the taxpayer handouts.

  4. Martin Brumby says:

    Aaaaargh!!!

    The aquifers!!!! The pity of it!!!!

    Will all the drinking water come out of the tap as steam???

    We must know…..

    \sarc

    They have geothermal power stations in the Azores. Do they make money??

  5. Paul Nevins says:

    I am all for geothermal production. I wouldn’t be surprosed if quietly and under the radar it isn’t already producing more power than wind.

    Sad that nuclear is unpopular, that is something that makes no sense. It really isn’t possible to make a rational case against nuclear power.

  6. vboring says:

    Most of the heat is in the West. Generation uses lots of water. The West doesn’t have a lot of extra water lying around.

  7. Jake says:

    The Raton basin on the Colorado/New Mexico line is very close (relatively) to the huge Four Corners coal fired energy plants. If they could successfully develop some production scale Geothermal Energy at that location, they could use the existing transmission infrastructure from Four Corners (which supplies a LOT of the Southwest Power).

  8. NoNegatives says:

    Just like solar, the highest concentration of energy is in the least concentrated population areas. Better start building those hot water pipelines.

  9. R Taylor says:

    At least we have an interesting map. The shale-gas revolution is one of the things that will keep remote geothermal generation economically uncompetitive. Also, the geothermal champions can hardly demonize fracking fluids, given the chemistry and volumes of what they would try to bring to surface.

  10. DocMartyn says:

    The East coast appears to be very lucky in this regard. However, as with Fracking, I expect the eco-warriors to fight this every inch of the way.

  11. pittzer says:

    Those are pretty deep holes.

  12. Bob B says:

    In Al Gore’s world the temperature is “several million degrees” just 2 kilometers down. We should have no problem tapping into this.

  13. RossP says:

    Like all these energy alternatives it depends on the location. I am all for economic alternative energy sources but what is good for one area is not necesaarily any good in another , even within the country. New Zealand has very good ( and expanding) geothermal sourced power plants as does Iceland. Will it be OK in the USA ? Of course it will in the right area and with the right size of resource to be economic.

  14. Matt says:

    “Those are pretty deep holes” Funny stuff – it reminds me of Al Gore’s brain cavity. This should work swell in MN.

  15. scarletmacaw says:

    I’d be interested to see a similar map of Iceland for comparison.

  16. Dave says:

    If anyone has seen a photo of a geothermal energy plant, you would have noticed massive amounts of steam being released into the atmosphere. Since water vapor is the real greenhouse gas, I fully expect that the warmists would vehemently oppose large scale usage of such energy sources.

  17. Rick C says:

    Google did invest in geothermal near The Geysers geothermal field in Northern California. The program was shut down after it was determined they were causing nearby earthquakes. I am convinced that the El centro Easter earthquakes a few years ago were caused by geothermal development at the Cerro Prieta geothermal field south of Mexicali (The worlds largest) Unfortunately the hottest geothermal resouces tend to be associated with active fault zones.

  18. TomL says:

    Geothermal doesn’t produce as much electricity as wind (at least in the U.S.), but it does produce more than solar.

    You do realize that producing geothermal energy involves drilling, hydrofracking, and fluids with all kinds of dissolved mineral content. You know what happens next.

    By the way, the world’s largest commercial geothermal producer? Chevron.

  19. Håkan B says:

    Paul Nevins
    October 26, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Geothermal is nuclear, we just don’t need to build reactors, mother earth is one.

  20. Brian H says:

    Temperature doesn’t hold steady once you’ve started draining the heat. When it drops to the edge of usability, then your extraction must be limited to the natural flux into your drill hole. THAT number is what needs to be known, and is never specified. Because it’s very low, given how slow conduction in rock is.

  21. temp says:

    Rick C says:
    October 26, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Google did invest in geothermal near The Geysers geothermal field in Northern California. The program was shut down after it was determined they were causing nearby earthquakes. I am convinced that the El centro Easter earthquakes a few years ago were caused by geothermal development at the Cerro Prieta geothermal field south of Mexicali (The worlds largest) Unfortunately the hottest geothermal resouces tend to be associated with active fault zones.”

    Explains why they want the government to invest now… can’t sue the government when they don’t approve unlike when the EPA funds groups to sue itself.

  22. JohnWho says:

    Whoa!

    Look at all of those “hot spots”!

    Probably wouldn’t have to drill far down at any of those places

    to get to that “millions of degrees” Al Gore tells us about.

    :)

  23. Keith W. says:

    Dave, the warmists don’t know that water vapor is the big greenhouse gas because none of their papers ever talk about it. They usually forget to list it as a component of the atmosphere at between 1-4%. For those counting in Rio Linda, that’s one carbon dioxide molecule for every 100 water molecules in the atmosphere.

  24. doug s says:

    I live right on the edge of the Geyser’s geothermal field the reference. Three points, the production dropped off decades ago due to loss of water supplying the steam field, so they use effluent off of wastewater treatement around clearlake and santa rosa to re-energize the ground water. It takes a lot of water and it doesn’t come up “green” from what I hear. Decades ago this was a mercury mining area…

    Second, they tried the deep drilling experiment here for several years, very quietly it stopped after they could not get past a certain point.

    Third, lots of the locals really don’t like it. Surprise.

    I love all the minor earthquakes, you are good for a 3.0 every week or so. I doubt this would happen elsewhere, it apparently was always this way; relatively speaking, I get “change” on geological and climate time scales :)

  25. Peter Miller says:

    I note the big purple patch over Yellowstone Park. In all probability, drilling deep holes here and pumping down water to create superheated steam to drive turbines to power generators is already a peer reviewed greenie/alarmist plan to provide ‘renewable’ electrical power for all of America.

    This would be kind of like building 100,000 wind turbines – very expensive and very unreliable, with equal economic consequences, namely a complete catastrophe. However, a 100,000 wind turbines might be preferable to being a catalyst for a Yellowstone super volcano (now overdue).

    Dependency on ‘renewable’ energy is a great concept if you live in the middle of nowhere, or have no comprehension of economics, or have an exceptionally well-insulated home and work in an academic/clerical/bureaucratic, low energy, environment.

    Geothermal energy is really only practical if you live in an active volcanic environment like Iceland, or North Island, New Zealand. However, for nearly all the rest of us, it cannot provide more than a minute fraction of one percentage point of our energy needs.

  26. Mike Borgelt says:

    I’ve seen geothermal plants in New Zealand. The “fuel” is spare parts as the hot water with all sorts of dissolved stuff is highly corrosive. Stainless steel isn’t under those conditions.
    Another pathetic energy source that might be Ok in a few remote areas close to such geothermal sources.
    Just build nukes.

  27. AlaskaHound says:

    Lateral drilling via super cooled robotic power heads and robotic conveyor tailing discharge is the answer. Put the power to the drill directly via a 25kV shaft line and we can drill anywhere, not just the “near surface” potentials…
    The Russians burnt up their drill shafts and after many years could only tap down to 7 miles.
    We can put a man on the moon, but can’t tap an 11-14 mile hole?

  28. AndyS says:

    More low density energy. Like wind only ten times more difficult and expensive to exploit. With shale gas available it just won’t happen.

  29. wsbriggs says:

    Basel, Switzerland can tell a story about drilling for geothermal energy. Ignored the clear warning in the consultant’s report, drilled, had a 3+ earthquake, then tried to sue the consultant for negligence andcausing the earthquake.

    One more gov. project, one more unintentional outcome.

  30. Dave Wendt says:

    Paul Nevins says:
    October 26, 2011 at 1:29 pm
    I am all for geothermal production. I wouldn’t be surprosed if quietly and under the radar it isn’t already producing more power than wind.

    If you go here

    http://www.caiso.com/green/renewableswatch.html

    You can review the daily production figures for California. Wind seems to have picked up quite recently, but if you check back through September you’ll find many days when GT did much more than wind and solar combined. Of course as noted in the post above much of that capacity was built long ago. Nowadays adding new capacity for GT is just as problematic from the NIMBY and enviro-fascist viewpoint as any other new energy source.

  31. Truthseeker says:

    Have we found Trenberth’s “missing heat”?

  32. D. J. Hawkins says:

    vboring says:
    October 26, 2011 at 1:32 pm
    Most of the heat is in the West. Generation uses lots of water. The West doesn’t have a lot of extra water lying around

    It doesn’t have to. You could use a closed loop; pump water down one pipe and up another (could be concentric pipes) and extract usefull work from the steam; send the condensate back down and keep going. The devil is in the details, but the principles aren’t difficult.

  33. doug s says:

    reply to D.J Hawkings…

    I have been on 2 plant tours with the 2 different owners of the power plants at the Geysers (calpine, bottlerock power) Its not that simple apparently. They have supply wells and separate steam wells, what comes up is more than just steam, includes rock, and lots of nasty stuff. I THINK (from what I hear) they process that down and ship out the nasty stuff. We got lots of greenies around here who want to shut it down, go figure, they love renewables, accept ones in their own back yards. Bottlerock even diverts rainwater, runoff from the roads/wellpads to capture any water they can to put in the ground since they are not apart of the effluent program I mentioned above.

  34. ShrNfr says:

    @D. J. Hawkins The water piped down picks up whatever minerals are down there and brings them up with the steam. A closed cycle is difficult at best. You have to clean out the condensate to some degree before you re-use it.

  35. PowerEngineer says:

    Wind may make MORE energy, but it blows the hardest when you need it the least and requires balancing reserves that Geothermal does not.

    those of us in the power industry prefer the Geo. Its a baseload, reliable renewable power source. Not like wind or solar. There is a ton of it on line and in service in Northern Nevada.

    Interestingly enough, the latest GeoTherms brought on line in show up as a really unfavorable location on this map. In addition several known mining locations that had trouble with hot spots also show up as unfavorable. Makes me wonder where they got their data??

  36. R. Kuntz says:

    Wow and people are concerned about ground water contamination from the fluids used in “Fracking” Gas wells. The contaminants in the “water” coming back up the hole from geothermal sources are can be worse by orders of magnitude.

  37. Vernon A. says:

    Brian H at 2:17pm has the best question…
    It boils down to what the life expectancy is for such a plant…
    Nuclear plants now are built with a 60-year life, and will produce
    100% of capacity fore that period. Nothing compares.
    What is capacity Vs life…give us a chart, at the beginning, however
    good or poor..

  38. John from CA says:

    It was curious to find geothermal stations as one of the EPA listed sources of mercury emissions.

    The closed loop idea is an interesting workaround. I’d rather see taxpayer money in geothermal than in solar and wind farm deployments but I’d honestly love to see us dump the politicians in favor of Statesmen and start over with an engineered energy plan that has some hope of working.

  39. “…especially now that nuclear power has suddenly become disproportionately unpopular…”

    Suddenly? It has been demonised for years. Berkeley has been a “nuclear-free zone” since 1986; they don’t even allow nuclear medicine.

    I wonder if their ban includes smoke detectors.

  40. davidmhoffer says:

    We can put a man on the moon, but can’t tap an 11-14 mile hole?>>>

    We can’t get rid of mosquitos either. Completely different problem.

  41. James Sexton says:

    Sigh, another pipe dream to drain the pockets of the public and make people believe there is a more cost-effective measure other than our traditional sources of energy. Digging a hole several miles deep doesn’t seem to make much sense when we can get fuel for our energy measured by feet.

    As a couple of people have already mentioned, gas is too readily available…… but then so is coal if we would just get over this irrational fear of CO2. What gets me is why we’ll subsidize all of this crap we know won’t work but we can’t subsidize a nuke plant?

    The longer we continue to throttle our cheap, reliable, and available energy, the longer we’ll dwell in the economic doldrums that we’re in.

  42. CodeTech says:

    Of course, as soon as you reach Canada or Mexico, there is no geothermal… I mean, it’s not like having a complete mapping of the entire continent would be more useful or anything.

    So what I’m reading here is comments is that geothermal is a nice idea that doesn’t quite work out as easily in real life? Because it IS a nice idea… drop in wastewater or even seawater, get out hot water and/or steam, generate power. Simple, no? Heck, seems to me that would be a great way to desalinate, too.

    Although I can’t understand why it isn’t self evident that eventually you cool the rock in the area of your activity…

  43. Enneagram says:

    It seems there are rivers of metallic lead flowing across California. Is this Earth´s America or is it Venus?

  44. Malcolm Miller says:

    The crude idea of using dirty steam from underground to run a generator in conditions of highly corrosive fluid is crazy. The only safe way to extract geothermal heat is through a heat exchanger at depth. It would have to be highly engineered to resist the corrosive environment which is destructive of stainless steels. The working fluid would be completely isolated from the heat source except via the heat exchanger. Otherwise it would be like putting the smoke from a steam generator through the turbines with the steam, a sure way to wreck it quickly. The engineering problems of installing a heat exchanger at a depth of several miles are enormous, and won’t be solved for a long time.

  45. D. J. Hawkins says:

    @ doug s
    @ Shr Nfr

    I see, so the usual method is a field of separate injection and extraction wells. Well no wonder it’s such a nasty business! My thought was more along the lines of a heat pipe, sealed at the downhole end so nothing is piped up but the heat. Imagine a pipe, said pipe sealed within a larger pipe. The larger pipe is capped at the end, the smaller is not and is positioned some little distance shorter than the large pipe. Pump water down the small pipe. It enters the annular space between the small and large pipe where it is heated by conduction by the surrounding rock/gravel/superheated water/what-have-you and then rises to the surface. As it rises, the pressure drops in the casing, and some portion of the water in the steam/water mix will flash to steam, increasing the quality of the steam. Send it through a knock-out drum to remove the remaining water (if any) and then off to the turbines. Collect the condensate at the turbine exit and send it back down the hole. I suppose it can’t be quite that easy, but how much harder (in concept) can it be?

  46. Again, simple physics, engineering and reality combine to defeat a SIMPLE concept. Tau Tona, the worlds deepest mine at 2 miles has rock temperature of 130F. The Russian Kola drill site at 40,000 ft had temperature of 350F. The transfer coefficient of rock is indeed low, meaning the heat removed is only slowly replaced. There are pumping losses and concentric piping has hot supply and cold return insulation problems. Non closed systems do absorb enormous amounts of minerals and have strata leakage. The heat from Geothermal is indeed NUCLEAR as is the feedstock of all hydrocarbons. These processes are described in a series of articles at http://www.FauxScienceSlayer.com.

    On May 10, 2011 the CEO of google met with the president and they managed to “resize” the web. In the words of our fearless leader, “Too much information is dangerous for our democracy”. Pity, for it would take our GREATEST minds with free access to information to solve some of our intractable problems, like SIMPLE Geothermal energy recovery. Support the FREE exchange of information and you support the best that our Earth has to offer.

  47. Ramon Leigh says:

    Oil isn’t used in this country to produce electricity anymore, so even if geothermal were able to generate substantial power, it would displace natural gas or coal, not oil.

  48. Tony Mach says:

    I’m curious, what are the hotspots?

    OK, one is the Raton Basin in southeastern Colorado. But the other, in north-western Wyoming?

  49. Jeff D says:

    Mark and two Cats says:
    October 26, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    I wonder if their ban includes smoke detectors.
    ____________________________________
    Most new heads in commercial applications are all photoelectric. It has become almost impossible to get ionization smoke detectors shipped into the US. Customs have some huge issues with it. So yeah they may have achieved a ban on them.

  50. temp says:

    Ramon Leigh says:
    October 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Oil isn’t used in this country to produce electricity anymore, so even if geothermal were able to generate substantial power, it would displace natural gas or coal, not oil.”

    They probably are following the myth that by creating “green” power that they can then supply electric cars with it reducing oil imports… of course this is a near complete myth as we would still import almost the same amount its just we would either ship the gas overseas or burn it at the refiner.

  51. D. J. Hawkins says:

    Jeff D says:
    October 26, 2011 at 4:24 pm
    Mark and two Cats says:
    October 26, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    I wonder if their ban includes smoke detectors.
    ____________________________________
    Most new heads in commercial applications are all photoelectric. It has become almost impossible to get ionization smoke detectors shipped into the US. Customs have some huge issues with it. So yeah they may have achieved a ban on them.

    True, but the vast majority of single and multistation smoke detectors in residential occupancies are and will continue to be ionization type. The typical PI detector for resi use is $8 +/-, and PE will run about $25. Since both are approved, absent building codes to the contrary, which one do you think the tract developer is going to install?

  52. Bob in Castlemaine says:

    Geothermal power generation is the objective of Australian company Geodynamics. But the firm has found that translating theory into practical power generation to be anything but straight forward. Deep drilling for “green energy” in the Australian outback has proved to be fraught with problems as company share holders (including government climate alarmist Prof. Tim Flannery) have discovered.
    Sure this form of power generation may be practical at some time in the future, but I think many of us are concerned that this will become yet another gravy train for rent seekers – call it underground windmills if you like. Or as Andrew Bolt puts it your millions for a hole in the ground
    No problem with the concept provided it is developed without the distortions of green taxes an anti-competitive legislation, in other words it is a private commercial development that “stands on it’s own two feet”.

  53. Sun Spot says:

    You watch, they are going to drill for geo-thermal heat sources and hit oil and gas at every hole.
    ROFL

  54. D. J. Hawkins says:

    Faux Science Slayer says:
    October 26, 2011 at 4:14 pm
    Again, simple physics, engineering and reality combine to defeat a SIMPLE concept. Tau Tona, the worlds deepest mine at 2 miles has rock temperature of 130F. The Russian Kola drill site at 40,000 ft had temperature of 350F. The transfer coefficient of rock is indeed low, meaning the heat removed is only slowly replaced. There are pumping losses and concentric piping has hot supply and cold return insulation problems. Non closed systems do absorb enormous amounts of minerals and have strata leakage. The heat from Geothermal is indeed NUCLEAR as is the feedstock of all hydrocarbons. These processes are described in a series of articles at http://www.FauxScienceSlayer.com.

    1. Many locations are have underground reservoirs of superheated water or are otherwise high flux. The transfer coefficient of rock isn’t necessarily a show-stopper. A look at the map shows many areas in the 200C range at 6.5 km depth (approx 21,000 ft).

    2. A concentric pipe doesn’t have more severe insulation issues than a two-pipe system. The fact that the rising hot fluid pre-heats the down flowing cold fluid is not a disadvantage. In fact, it helps ensure the maximum heat transfer efficiency via a simple pipe-in-pipe heat exchanger.

    3. For a system with an inner pipe of 16″ OD and an outer pipe of 24″ ID, you can pump 1000 gallons per minute a distance of 21,000 feet with a head loss of about 150 psig. Hardly insurmountable.

  55. Dave Worley says:

    The problem with geothermal is that the superheated water flowing through the rocks down there carry minerals in solution. Even with a closed loop geothermal system, you are cooling the rock adjacent to the wellbore. As the superheated water is cooled, the minerals it carries fall out of solution and are deposited in the pores in the rock. eventually the rock near the wellbore is no longer porus, so the water which carries the heat to the wellbore no longer flows near the wellbore and the system loses efficiency.
    Geothermal wells are not any more sustainable than an Oil & Gas Well.

  56. TomT says:

    But the same people who are global warming alarmist think that drilling causes earthquakes. They also think that global warming causes earthquakes. Since they also think that earthquakes cause nuclear power plants to meltdown, what are we to do?

  57. Ric Werme says:

    AlaskaHound says:
    October 26, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    > We can put a man on the moon, but can’t tap an 11-14 mile hole?

    We used to be able to put a man on the Moon, but cannot do so any longer.
    Heck, the US can’t even put a man in low Earth orbit any more….

  58. davidmhoffer says:

    Ric Werme;
    We used to be able to put a man on the Moon, but cannot do so any longer.
    Heck, the US can’t even put a man in low Earth orbit any more….>>>

    Yes, just how sad is that? From a Democrat president who encouraged his nation to reach for the stars, and was willing to put his finger on the “button” to turn back the Soviet nuclear threat, to one who believes that by disarming he will encourage his enemies to do so as well, and that the agency established to reach for the stars would better serve the nation as a “muslim outreach” society.

  59. SteveSadlov says:

    Beware the purple dot!

  60. Gail Combs says:

    Most of that geothermal energy is in the Rocky Mountains (ring of fire). Not exactly the nicest place to be drilling and not where you want the power.

    This map gives an idea of where we actually need the power (you can click on the USA) http://eoimages.gsfc.nasa.gov/ve/1438/earth_lights.gif

    The best idea I ever heard for “geothermal” was a home heat exchanger type idea though I would want to see one that had worked for a decade before I actually tried it. http://mb-soft.com/solar/saving.html

    Thorium mini-nuclear is still my favorite choice.

  61. Austin says:

    I can only imagine the precipitate problems the geothermal plants have with that dirty water coming up flashing to steam. I would imagine the feed pipes would get coated over time reducing their flow rates as well.

    The wiki article on geothermal says the utilization rate worldwide is about 70% of rated capacity with very high capital costs leading to capex costs of 5-10 cents per KWH alone.

    Wholesale electricity prices in TX average around 4.5 cents per KWH,

    I do not see how it would be economical at this time.

  62. The next step is to apply to that Geothermal map a mask that cuts out all National Parks, National Monuments, Wilderness areas, and any other place where drilling permit have been denied in the past 10 years.

    Next, let’s see the footprint of a geothermal power station on the land compared to a gas or oil well as viewed 1 year after the drilling completion.

  63. Austin, I have an apocryphal story from geophysics professor Dr. Maurice Major of the Colo. School of Mines in 1977. He was explaining in class just that problem of mineral deposition within the pipes and heat exchangers. He finished by implying that the true source of any profit from geothermal electrical plants might be from cutting up the pipes and selling the scrap as geodes.

  64. Roger Sowell says:

    @vboring on October 26, 2011 at 1:32 pm
    “”Most of the heat is in the West. Generation uses lots of water. The West doesn’t have a lot of extra water lying around”

    “It doesn’t have to. You could use a closed loop; pump water down one pipe and up another (could be concentric pipes) and extract usefull work from the steam; send the condensate back down and keep going. The devil is in the details, but the principles aren’t difficult.”

    The main water issue is not finding water to pump into the ground and back up to the surface. The main water concern is for cooling, e.g. condensing the steam that exits the turbine. Geothermal power plants are relatively low-pressure and hence have a low thermal efficiency. That means that most of the energy in the steam to the turbine is not converted to electric power, but is lost to the cooling water when the steam is condensed. Locating geothermal power projects where water is scarce is a show-stopper.

    This is also true of nuclear power plants, where the low steam temperature yields a low thermal efficiency. Typically, a nuclear power plant produces one-fourth of the energy as electric power, and three-fourths to evaporating water in the cooling tower or other cooling medium (sometimes a lake, or ocean). In contrast, a modern gas-fired combined cycle plant will use far less water than a nuclear plant or geothermal plant, for the same electric output. This water usage is a critical consideration in dry states.

  65. Roger Sowell says:

    Re costs of geothermal power, a recent study shows the cost of produced power to be 10 – 11 cents per kWh. The study is from California’s Energy Commission, “Comparative Costs of California Central Stations Electricity Generation” dated January 2010. Figure 14 shows the relative costs of several generating technologies.

    http://www.energy.ca.gov/2009publications/CEC-200-2009-017/CEC-200-2009-017-SF.PDF

  66. Bob in Castlemaine says:

    Austin says:
    October 26, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Wholesale electricity prices in TX average around 4.5 cents per KWH,

    I do not see how it would be economical at this time.

    Maybe there’s a silver lining that can offset some of the cost? Well more like a gold lining really. I understand that hydrothermal systems related to active subduction zones, such as encountered in New Zealand, have been known to cause gold plating (epithermal deposition) on the heat transfer pipework of geothermal power plants.

  67. R Taylor says:

    Mark Twain’s characterization of a mine likely applies to geothermal workings as well.

  68. Chris Nelli says:

    Anyone locate Hot Springs, Arkansas?

  69. Claude Harvey says:

    Re: Roger Sowell says:

    Re costs of geothermal power, a recent study shows the cost of produced power to be 10 – 11 cents per kWh.

    First, be very leery of any California Energy Commission study comparing technology costs. The Commission is notorious for showing such results OUT IN THE FUTURE where staff’s assumed fuel costs and other guessed at escalators determine the comparative outcome.

    Second, as always the real issue is realistically bearable cost. The California numbers of 10-11-cents per Kwh “at the fence” would possibly be bearable, even though the current average wholesale spot price for all electric power is around 4-cents at the trading hubs. But the California numbers represent mostly the “low hanging fruit” of geothermal that has been exploited in the 325 deg F. and above range. Unfortunately, the vast majority of geothermal resources identified in the U.S. are far below 325 deg F. and mostly reside in 200-300 degree F. territory. At those lower temperature ranges, plant capital costs become almost as unrealistic as photovoltaic solar.

  70. Warren says:

    NZ Geothermal website, there are a lot of inter-related links, equipment/cycles/generation capacity.

    http://www.nzgeothermal.org.nz/elec_geo.html

    http://www.nzgeothermal.org.nz/generation_technologies.html

  71. Lance says:

    How about drilling down into the mantle? It’s plenty damn hot enough that the puny heat loss caused by the removed heat would not effect thermodynamic efficiency or even cool the surrounding magma enough to solidify.

    Of course there are huge technical difficulties in drilling that deep. The high temperatures would present a challenge for heat exchanger materials and maybe you create a mini volcano!

    But I say if you want energy you’ll get plenty of it.

  72. kuhnkat says:

    The real question is how stable these geothermal sources are. If tectonic activity shifts the heat flux you have a dry well. Any research on this issue??

  73. Brian R says:

    D. J. Hawkins says:
    October 26, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    vboring says:
    October 26, 2011 at 1:32 pm
    Most of the heat is in the West. Generation uses lots of water. The West doesn’t have a lot of extra water lying around

    It doesn’t have to. You could use a closed loop; pump water down one pipe and up another (could be concentric pipes) and extract usefull work from the steam; send the condensate back down and keep going. The devil is in the details, but the principles aren’t difficult.

    Details is right. It’s the condensing that uses all the water. The condensation pipes are cooled by water mist and fans. Just like all the current power plants that use steam driven turbines.

  74. M. Simon says:

    Total US shale output is “set to expand dramatically” as fresh sources come on stream, possibly reaching 5.5m b/d by mid-decade. This is a tenfold rise since 2009. The US already meets 72pc of its own oil needs, up from around 50pc a decade ago.

    http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/2011/10/america-is-on-mend.html

  75. M. Simon says:

    Since they also think that earthquakes cause nuclear power plants to meltdown,

    Fukushima.

    I’d like to see nukes designed to be safe despite a 10 day loss of electrical power. Until then I’m against more nukes.

    Simon – Naval Nuke in another life.

  76. Brian H says:

    Scavenging dispersed energy from the environment is a crock. Concentrated energy sources are and always will be the future.

    And here’s my favorite dark horse (getting lighter by the month):
    A form of “Dense Plasma Fusion” called “focus fusion”. See LawrencevillePlasmaPhysics.com for some detail. 10X++ closer to scientific breakeven than any other project, could achieve it this winter. If so, within 3-5 yrs. small dispatchable (variable on command) 5MW powerplant/generators could be on the market world-wide, under ½ $million each, putting out power at under ½¢/kwh.
    No waste or radioactive debris. Direct current, no steam generators needed.

    Geothermal and all other “renewables” idiocies will be immediate economic roadkill.

  77. Ed Mertin says:

    I’m not about to invest in it, not the way green energy has been performing. Example: First Solar FSLR was a $300+ stock that now struggles to not drop below $40. Sure hope you’re wrong about the nuclear popularity in the future. India and China building nearly 100 reactors unless things change. I loaded up with Cameco Corp CCJ when it was beaten down to $17. *Crossed fingers it’s up… pays you to wait too

  78. Brian H says:

    Ed;
    Yes, by most people’s standards. But “accredited investors” are defined by the SEC etc. as those presumed able to do their own due diligence. Compared to the monies flowing into the alternative approaches, LPP’s costs are minute (and have all been met by private sources to date.)

  79. Entomologist says:

    I see that the general consensus (and I do apologize for using this word!) forming in this discussion thread is that geothermal is by and large not a viable technology in most regions where deep drilling is necessary.

    In this regard, it might be interesting to know that in some Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Finland) small-scale “ground source heating” installations have been used for years, and are in fact increadsing in popularity, to provide heating of homes. The energy source is somewhat different from true geothermal in that heat energy in the latter comes from deeper within the earth, whereas “ground-source” heat is energy from the sun stored in the subsurface ground layer. Depending on the conditions, drilling either may not be necessary or is typically less than 200 m. The initial investment is high, but so is the return on it – keeping in mind that in the said countries, energy prices, taxation and standard of living are high, and ‘environmental awareness’ (for better or worse) is widespread.

    The oporeating principle is illustrated here (disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with the said company nor am I their customer):
    http://www.gebwell.fi/eng/products/ground-source-heat-pumps/operating-principle/

    True geothermal is not a miracle energy source, but I have little doubt that by perfecting existing technologies and developing new ones, it can be tapped safely and profitably in the future in a wider range of geographical and socio-economical conditions.

  80. Ralph says:

    So the Geothermal energy is NOT where the people are. Who would have thunk it??
    More Green fail !!

    .

  81. Ralph says:

    >>Peter
    >>However, a 100,000 wind turbines might be preferable to being a catalyst
    >>for a Yellowstone super volcano (now overdue).

    But if you cooled the Yellowstone magma chamber, by extracting its heat, you could possibly prevent the next super-eruption. Just make sure the seals on the drill-string are a bit more secure than the Gulf of Mexico one. ;-)

    .

  82. Mark says:

    I didn’t read every comment and I”m sure it is mentioned somewhere up there, but Iceland runs their country completely on Geothermal energy. When I was stationed there, it always amazed me how hot their water was and how cheaply it was produced. In areas where this is feasible, what a fantastic idea it would be.

  83. Grey lensman says:

    “Mark says:
    October 27, 2011 at 1:52 am

    I didn’t read every comment and I”m sure it is mentioned somewhere up there, but Iceland runs their country completely on Geothermal energy. When I was stationed there, it always amazed me how hot their water was and how cheaply it was produced. In areas where this is feasible, what a fantastic idea it would be.”

    Spot on, electric transmission is simple and getting better, compare with an Oil Pipeline. Iceland has the technology, heat exchangers, wow real rocket science. Low level heat, well just take a little look at how many industrial processes pay a fortune for low level heat. No reason why a well sited plant cannot run for 60 years. No new technology.

  84. DirkH says:

    Mark says:
    October 27, 2011 at 1:52 am
    “I didn’t read every comment and I”m sure it is mentioned somewhere up there, but Iceland runs their country completely on Geothermal energy.”

    True only for heating; most of the electricity comes from hydropower.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_hydroelectric_power_stations

  85. R Taylor says:

    M. Simon says: October 26, 2011 at 9:49 pm
    ____________________________________
    Unenriched uranium is stable. If the deuterium bath doesn’t go away on its own as a result of the disaster, there are many simple ways to get gravity to do the job. Why anyone would use enriched uranium in unstable surroundings is beyond me. Must have been politics.

  86. MarkW says:

    I wonder if by tapping the geothermal heat in Yellowstone, it would be possible to take enough energy out of the system to make the next eruption less likely.

  87. MarkW says:

    Fukushima.

    The problem with Fukishima wasn’t the earthquake, it was the tsunami that knocked out the back up generators.
    For reactors that are in areas where 30 foot tsunamis are likely, put your backup generators in water tight rooms.
    For the rest, no changes needed.

  88. D. J. Hawkins says:

    @ Brian R
    @ Roger Sowell

    Water mist cooling towers aren’t the only game in town. In urban areas, especially the east, land is pretty pricey. You want your generating station as compact as possible. If you can put it next to a river, so much the better. Out west, at least, land price/availability isn’t as much of an issue. Use air-cooled heat exchangers to condense the left over steam. Remember, we don’t need to chill the water, just condense it. If it goes back down the hole at 210F, so much the better.

  89. Curt says:

    It is important to realize that, with the singular exception of Iceland, geothermal energy in practical terms is not a renewable resource. That is, to extract heat at a rate that is high enough to be economically useful, you are pulling out heat from the location faster than the deep earth can replenish that heat there. You are really “mining heat”, and the well will “play out” just as an oil or gas well will. (Yes, Iceland is geologically unique.)

  90. TRM says:

    I always wonder why the obsessive deep hole, megaproject mentality for geothermal? The low grade geothermal is available everywhere and can offset your heating and cooling needs if not replace them.

    http://www.citrusinthesnow.com/

    Geo-Air instead of liquid. He uses 1100 feet of 6″ PVC pipe buried 10 feet.

  91. Lloyd says:

    @D.J. Hawkins
    “Remember, we don’t need to chill the water, just condense it. If it goes back down the hole at 210F, so much the better.”

    Except for the fact that efficiency of a steam generator is based on the equation e = 1-tmax/tmin. So if the water going back down into the hole is at 210F then your plant well be very inefficient.

  92. @ D JHawking & Roger Sowell
    There is a HUGE problem with ‘concentric’ piping for heat exchangers. The “rising hot fluid pre-heats the down flowing cold fluid” means the inverse is also true….THE RISING HOT FLUID IS COOLED. The object and efficiency rating of all energy systems is based on the maximum difference between entering and leaving temperatures, in accordance with the Carnot Cycle. The Faux Science Slayer will release an indepth study of the Geothermal Dilemma soon, in the meantime read “Motive Force fo All Climate Change” and “Fossil Fuel is Nuclear Waste” on the climate impact and Abiogenic Oil production from Earth’s Variable Cold Fission process.

    “Education is not a bucket that you fill….education is a fire that you light”.

    May your ‘fire’ be ignited and you do all you can to share this new light with those around you.

  93. Here in Iceland five major geothermal plants exists and two more are being designed and will be started in about 3 years. They currently produce more than 25% of the nations energy.
    In addition, geothermal heating meets the heating and hot water requirements of almost 90% of all buildings.

    Apart from geothermal energy, about 75% of the nation’s electricity is generated by hydro power, and 0.1% from fossil fuels.

    Some links:

    http://www.nea.is/geothermal

    http://www.verkis.com/media/frettabref/Gangverk-enska-litid.pdf

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_power_in_Iceland

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=iceland-geothermal-power

    http://www.verkis.is/media/frodleikur/Geothermal-Energy-as-Replacement-for-Oil-and-Gas.pdf

    http://www.verkis.is/media/frodleikur/Heat-pump-enhanced-district-heating-in-low_temperature-geothermal-area.pdf

  94. Curt says:

    @Lloyd:
    You completely misunderstand the applicability of the Carnot efficiency equation you present. Here it applies to the input (Tmax) and output (Tmin) temperatures of the device that produces useful work — the steam turbine in this case. (And you’ve got the equation wrong — it’s 1-Tmin/Tmax)

    Since in a steam turbine, you cannot let the steam condense before it exits the turbine (or it will tear apart the turbine blades), the output temperature must be above 212F/100C/373K.

    This equation does not apply to the efficacy (which is not efficiency) of heat transfer of the rocks to the working fluid. The hotter the working fluid starts, the less heat must be transferred from the rock to the fluid to get it to a high temperature, which is desirable.

  95. marcoinpanama says:

    “>>Peter
    >>However, a 100,000 wind turbines might be preferable to being a catalyst
    >>for a Yellowstone super volcano (now overdue).

    But if you cooled the Yellowstone magma chamber, by extracting its heat, you could possibly prevent the next super-eruption. Just make sure the seals on the drill-string are a bit more secure than the Gulf of Mexico one. ;-)”

    Yellowstone is indeed a ticking bomb. When it goes off, all bets on the future are called.

    A friend of mine wrote a quixotic but well researched sci-fi book, Edge of Heaven, about how the Chinese figured out the trigger points and at one moment launched an attack via scramjet mini-nukes launched from their “peaceful” space station. Taking the long view (we, the Chinese, have over 4,000 years of history, what’s a couple of hundred lost to nuclear winter?) they aim to own it all in the end. Turns out different though…

    I suspect you could heat the whole US red-hot with the amount of energy you would need to take out to prevent the eruption, since the magma is coming up from the mantle. Just ask, What would Hansen do? /sarc

  96. D. J. Hawkins says:

    Faux Science Slayer says:
    October 27, 2011 at 8:27 am
    @ D JHawking & Roger Sowell
    There is a HUGE problem with ‘concentric’ piping for heat exchangers. The “rising hot fluid pre-heats the down flowing cold fluid” means the inverse is also true….THE RISING HOT FLUID IS COOLED. The object and efficiency rating of all energy systems is based on the maximum difference between entering and leaving temperatures, in accordance with the Carnot Cycle…

    See Curt’s response to Lloyd as to why I believe you are mistaken. Remember, the efficiency is based on the temperature difference at the two ENDS of the heat pipe, not what’s happening in the middle. In a closed pipe system such as I suggest, you will reach a steady state where the temperature gradient at any given elevation of the system does not change, all other things being equal. Note that there is still flux, but dQ/dt where t is time is constant.

  97. Curt says:

    @DJ Hawkins:

    FSS is correct in this one. A “counterflow” heat exchanger like you propose would be counterproductive because it cools the working fluid BEFORE it enters the turbine, where it can produce useful work.

    The Carnot efficiency limit (and it is just a theoretical upper limit) applies to a situation where you are generating useful “work” through cooling of a substance. In this case, the useful work energy is in the spinning of the turbine, and the cooling is accomplished by letting the pressurized steam expand. The hotter the steam can be entering the turbine, the higher the possible efficiency.

  98. marcoinpanama says:

    97% of the volume of the earth is hotter than 1000 C. The delta T between what is below our feet and the cold blackness of space could power civilization until we are able to construct a Dyson Sphere around the solar system and capture ALL of the energy of the Sun. Jupiter and Titan of course, are the ultimate sources of fossil fuel, which we will use to terraform Mars and Venus, but I digress.

    Geothermal was first explored over 100 years ago, at the dawn of the Electric Age. It lost out to coal because of the transportability issue (railroads use fossil fuels to efficiently transport fossil fuels, creating positive feedback) a problem that afflicts all natural electricity generation sources – wind, solar, hydro, geo.

    Left at the alter 100 years ago, geothermal is at the same state as oil exploration at that time – you get it where it bubbles up out of the ground. Today of course, Transocean makes oil drilling rigs that hold position in the open ocean, pass through 6,000 feet of water and drill 20,000 feet into the crust of the earth to get at the oil. The rig that BP managed to sink in the gulf cost over $2 billion to build. Given that same level of technological investment and development over the last hundred years, geothermal would look a great deal more promising today.

    However, given the low cost of fracked natural gas, there is zero chance that geothermal will acquire the required level of investment from private sources. Whether the government should invest is an open question (I say no), as any money spent will be too little, too late. It will remain the ultimate answer, for exploitation perhaps 100 years from now. Or maybe not…

    Over the last hundred or so years, human civilization has rocketed forward, powered by the Fossil Fuel Age. A substantial fraction of the people on earth have been lifted to a comfortable life style (de facto, all the readers of this blog for example) thanks to fossil fuels. I would argue that the future of humanity hinges on not only lifting people into a more productive life style, but properly developing their brains (our only unique human feature). But it will be difficult to do so on a global basis using the existing fossil fuel model.

    So we stand at a crossroads – on the one hand, a world of diminishing resources and capabilities, billions of wasted human brains, poverty and unhappiness. On the other hand, a world with the forward-looking prospects of the last century, for exponential advancement and the maximum development of human potential. All it takes is a new energy source with the possibility of exponential growth over the next 100 years.

    “Alternative green” energy sources are a joke, all about making do with less. Fossil fuels will allow the developed nations to continue with business as usual for awhile, but I don’t see the prospect for exponential expansion to meet global demands. There are three possibilities that I see – geothermal for real, not the half hearted efforts so far, fusion in some form and possibly Thorium. So, we have the diffuse, low delta T(at least until we drill really deep), not transportable geothermal and the concentrated, portable, unlimited fuel source of fusion or the big infrastructure, not transportable but concentrated Thorium. Which will it be? Any bets?

  99. Jon Jewett says:

    M. Simon says: October 26, 2011 at 9:49 pm
    Since they also think that earthquakes cause nuclear power plants to meltdown,
    Fukushima.
    I’d like to see nukes designed to be safe despite a 10 day loss of electrical power. Until then I’m against more nukes.
    Simon – Naval Nuke in another life.
    **************************
    They were designed to survive with the loss of the grid/power for something like ten days. (I was a civilian instructor at S-5-G and then in operator training on a Westinghouse PWR and a GE BWR, but that was some 30 years ago.)

    Unfortunately, having a Tsunami flood the fuel supply was not a part of the design basis accident. If you really care, libraries in the vicinity of commercial nuclear power plants have a copy of the Final Safety Analysis Report (FSAR). Or, you can slog through the FSAR for Watts Bar 2 here (the table of contents run some 50 pages!):

    http://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/idmws/ViewDocByAccession.asp?AccessionNumber=ML091400068

    Regards,
    Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin)

  100. Nasif Nahle says:

    @D. J. Hawkins…October 27, 2011 at 9:54 am…

    You say:

    Remember, the efficiency is based on the temperature difference at the two ENDS of the heat pipe…

    And you are correct. Two formulas are available to calculate efficiency:

    ε =1 – Tlow/Thigh

    And

    ε = (Thigh- Tlow)/Thigh

    The results of both procedures must coincide one to another. For example, the temperature of soil (dry clay) in a pot, whose surface is 1 m^2 and whose volume is 1 m^3, at 16:30 hrs (CST) is 295.25 K, while the temperature of the atmosphere is 297.35 K. The efficiency of thermal radiation transfer from the atmosphere to the soils is:

    ε = (Thigh- Tlow)/Thigh = (297.35 K- 295.25 K)/(297.35 K)= (2.1 K)/(297.35 K)= 0.0071

    Using the first formula it is:

    ε =1 – (Tlow/Thigh) = 1- (295.25 K/297.35 K) = 1 – (0.99294) = 0.0071

    In this case, the usable thermal radiation -i.e. the absorbed thermal radiation that is convertible to usable thermal energy- would be 0.0115 W/m^2.

  101. higley7 says:

    Petroleum still drives our vehicles. The vast majority of our oil needs is for transportation and plastics.

    How in heck is geothermal going to affect our need for carbon in plastics and the fact that cars are not anchored in the ground.

    If they think it’s a source of electricity, heh, electric cars will always suck big time, unless we can master fuel cells. The energy density of batteries simply cannot come close to that of hydrocarbons, particularly as half of the fuel, the oxygen, does not have to be carried around with the car, but pulled from the atmosphere as needed.

  102. Ed Mertin says:

    @ Brian H
    I’ve seen the big dawgs lose lots of money! I particularly enjoy when I runnoft with some. It’s speculative and has competition with in place infrastructure.
    CCJ is up over $2 today btw.

  103. pk says:

    the engineers want steam turbine blades to pass through the driving fluid at .95 of the speed of sound in that medium.

    that means that if you have any solid particles in the fluid then its really hard on the blades.

    the main culpret is silica. even with multiple strainers (that slow the flow incidentally) particles punch holes in the blades until they resemble the finest belgian lace of centuries ago. (and as a matter of fact turbine mechanics call this “Lacework”).

    metal surface treatments such as malcomizing, ionization nitriding, carburizing or carbide coating just don’t carry the day.

    remember guys its the dumb little details (like cloudy days and dead bats) that will get you.

    C

  104. Ed Mertin says:

    TRM’s comments stimulated my thinkolator, you wouldn’t really even have to bury the pvc into the ground. How about a big pile of decomposing sawdust from a local sawmill? A larger scale variation of this…
    http://mb-soft.com/public3/globalzl.html

    But much less maintenance required, hopefully.

  105. Ben says:

    Areas of particular geothermal interest include… the areas of radioactive basement granites beneath sediments such as those found in northern Illinois and northern Louisiana.

    Is there a source for more information about the how the radioactive basement granites are being used for energy? Are there websites that discuss this technology and where they may be located?

  106. pk says:

    Ed Mertin:
    if you have that large a pile of sawdust why don’t you burn it in a boiler and use that steam for a turbine………

    oh yeah i forgot that.

    that college in north carolina tried that.

    nevermind……..

    C

  107. pk says:

    Ed Mertin:
    if you have that large a pile of sawdust why don’t you burn it in a boiler and use that steam for a turbine……..

    oh yeah that college in north carolina tried that.

    nevermind.
    c

  108. Gail Combs says:

    M. Simon says:
    October 26, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Since they also think that earthquakes cause nuclear power plants to meltdown,

    Fukushima.

    I’d like to see nukes designed to be safe despite a 10 day loss of electrical power. Until then I’m against more nukes.

    Simon – Naval Nuke in another life.
    ____________________________________________________

    It looks like that type of nuclear power plant (thorium) is in the works. (If it is not ad hype)

    From Physics.org
    “…In addition, the Hyperion modules have no moving parts to wear down, and never need to be opened on site. Even if opened, the small amount of enclosed fuel would immediately cool, alleviating safety concerns. “It is impossible for the module to go supercritical, ´melt down,´ or create any type of emergency situation,” the company states on its Web site. Because the Hyperion plants would be buried underground and guarded by a security detail, the company explains that they´ll be out of sight and safe from illegitimate uses. Further, the material inside wouldn´t be appropriate for proliferation purposes……” http://www.physorg.com/news145561984.html

    Diagram of reactor at top of page: http://www.thorium.tv/en/thorium_reactor/thorium_reactor_1.php

    The world Nuclear Assoc. has a lot of info with links to papers: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/default.aspx?id=448&terms=thorium

    American Chemical Society Article: http://pubs.acs.org/cen/science/87/8746sci2.html

    Reintroducing Thorium

    “….thorium-fueled reactors don’t provide the opportunity to make and collect materials that can be used to build nuclear bombs…. ..

    Last month, (2009) the group convened its first conference, which drew about 50 people to Washington, D.C. At the same time that the Washington conference was in session, the International Thorium Energy Organization, a brand-new European group with the same goals as the U.S.-based alliance, announced its existence by launching the IThEO.org website. And just one month earlier, the Chinese Nuclear Society ran a thorium workshop in Baotou, Inner Mongolia….

    Thorium itself is not actually a nuclear fuel. But it can be converted (transmuted) into one by exposing it to low-energy neutrons. Neutron capture converts 232Th into 233U, a material that liberates enormous amounts of energy when it undergoes nuclear fission.

    Sorensen explains that the same “shortcoming” that led government officials during the Cold War to decide against pursuing thorium-reactor technology—namely the inability to generate weapon materials—is clearly recognized as an advantage today. At no point in the thorium cycle, from mining thorium minerals to preparing and “burning” reactor fuel to managing the waste, can fuel or waste products be converted into nuclear bomb materials. Unlike uranium, thorium is nuclear-proliferation proof.

    …the element is roughly four times more abundant than uranium and accessible via mining techniques that are simpler and less costly than the ones used to extract uranium. …. Not only is thorium more plentiful than uranium, it also does not need to undergo a costly and complex enrichment process ….Thorium exists in nature almost entirely as 232Th…..

    Proponents also point out that although waste products from thorium usage are radioactive, radiotoxicity persists for just tens of years rather than thousands of years as uranium waste does….

    …..One design idea that’s generating a big buzz ….grew out of an uncompleted project to design a nuclear-powered military airplane…..

    A key source of interest in LFTR is the design’s inherent safety features. David LeBlanc, a staff physicist at Carleton University, in Ottawa, and a nuclear reactor specialist, points out several safety-related differences between LFTRs and today’s commercial reactors. To begin with, LFTRs would operate at low pressure. Furthermore, an increase in the temperature of LFTR fuel (a molten salt) would reduce the medium’s density and thereby lower its nuclear reactivity. In addition, if the reactor leaked or was drained of its fuel, the molten salt would solidify. In the event of reactor malfunction, those features would terminate nuclear reactions and prevent the spread of radioactive material without the need for plant-operator intervention.

    …. Lightbridge is scheduled to insert three test fuel-rod assemblies into commercial light-water reactors in Russia in the 2012–13 time frame.

    Meanwhile, India is developing its own thorium-fueled nuclear industry…..”

    I think resources (dollars) are better spent developing thorium nuclear than in developing Geothermal. Geothermal looks like it could be a lot more dangerous (earthquakes) in addition to the siting problems. (away from where the power is needed)

    Given the non CO2 producing energy sources I would rank them:
    #1 Hydro but it is fully exploited and the environuts are having dams removed.

    #2 Thorium Nuclear – tarred with Uranium nuclear scare brush but most viable.

    #3 Geothermal – useful in select applications

    #4 Solar – useful in select applications

    #5 Windmills – over hyped bird/bat shredders. Wastes more materials/energy than they are worth except as water tank fillers for open range.

    Oil/gas are best saved for transportation and chemical precursors

  109. Gail Combs says:

    Entomologist says:
    October 27, 2011 at 12:26 am

    AND

    TRM says:
    October 27, 2011 at 7:59 am

    I always wonder why the obsessive deep hole, megaproject mentality for geothermal? The low grade geothermal is available everywhere and can offset your heating and cooling needs if not replace them. ….
    ____________________________
    Yes I, also linked to a “Homemade version” (Professionally engineered) of what you guys are talking about.

    I see it as having one major problem. It is only good for homes with a decent yard and a large amount of soil cover. It would be fine for my house in NC since we have a big pasture in front and the bedrock is pretty far down.

    The article calls for a trench at least 12 to 16 feet deep. ( (forget New England with LEDGE or bedrock all over the place) It suggests 900 ft of 4″ pipe and the compact design is a 50′ X 50′ yard for a single family home. Whether you can run it in the same place as the septic system would probably be up to your local inspector.

    If I had the money (I don’t) and lived in a good spot (I do) I would certainly look into this as a major cost savings project for my home since it would knock over $1000 a year off my electric bill.

    Now I want my Obama money to pay for it……

  110. Gary Pate says:

    Here in San Diego County, California are dealing with eco-nuts who are opposing a power line to bring clean, US-sourced geothermal & solar to market from the desert in south-east California into western San Diego County. They say a power line will somehow “destroy” our environment….

    This despite a legal mandate from our morons in state government that utilities MUST utilize more green energy, promoted by the very same people opposing the power line…

    This is why I am convinced that these greenies have there heads firmly ensconced inside their rectums & should NEVER be taken seriously.

  111. Brian H says:

    Thorium ‘thusiasts need to get a reality check. It’s about those “molten salts”. Sadly, they corrode the ever-lovin’ crap out of their containment piping, and those are a royal b**** to replace.

    I’m afraid the hot corrosive stuff is going to have to be circulated in unobtainium. Check back when you have some.

  112. de Haan says:

    It would be all thru if you werent forgetting one thing . USE THE HEAT. In the cold area’s houses/buildings use fast amounts of energy just to keep warm (at 21 Celsius). All water warmer than that can be used for heating and this is found much shallower. Also closed systems can be used to extract only the heat not water. ( like a fridge)

    About nuclear power: If the taxpayer stopped paying for the building and demolition of powerplants, storage of waist (10 000 years long) and the effects of a nuclear disasters, all companies will stop today. How much cost Tjernobyl? and how much power do you have to sell to become costeffective?????

  113. kuhnkat says:

    Brian H,

    “Sadly, they corrode the ever-lovin’ crap out of their containment piping, and those are a royal b**** to replace.”

    think shovel ready jobs!!! 4 times the needed number of reactors so they can be rotated into and out of service for maintenance and backup duties!! 8>)

    try pebble bed reactors that are a large improvement in most respects.

  114. kuhnkat says:

    de Haan,

    Chernobyl cost wasn’t anywhere near the alarmists projections. You also need to consider that it wasn’t just an accident. They were EXPERIMENTING when they had their accident, inept operators who turned off safety overrides. You also need to remember Chernobyl had NO CONTAINMENT PRESSURE VESSEL!!!!

    There were no recorded deaths outside of the immediate workers dealing with the mess. Thyroid cancers among children happened in half the time expected in the general area of Chernobyl and are thought by some to have been caused by previous contamination, not the accident.

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/chernobyl/inf07.html

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