Geothermal Energy Production

Geothermal energy is carbon neutral, widely available and can provide a stable supply.  Geothermal reservoirs have the potential to make a significant contribution to renewable energy supply.  The NORMS group investigates methods to optimize heat recovery from geothermal reservoirs. 

Maximizing the sweep efficiency – the contact between cold injection fluids and hot rocks – is key to efficient and sustainable heat exchange, but is challenging because fluid flow and heat transport in the reservoir is controlled by a complex array of geological features and thermal-hydrological-mechanical-chemical (THMC) processes, many of which are highly uncertain. 

We use the advanced simulation technology in IC-FERST to model water and heat flow in geothermal reservoirs.  We work closely with the solid mechanics group in ESE developing the Solidity code, to model coupled THM processes including rock failure and fracture propagation. We collaborate with other industry and academic groups worldwide, who are researching and implementing new methods for drilling and operating geothermal wells, including China University of Petroleum,  Sinopec Star, and ENTEQ.

Cut through animation of a 3D numerical simulation using IC-FERST.  The model simulates cold water injected into a hot reservoir and produced from a horizontal well pair.  Colours denote temperature.  Dynamic unstructured mesh adaptivity is used to capture the cold water front moving into the reservoir.