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 production.  Subsurface reservoirs and aquifers can also be used for large scale energy storage, to provide low carbon heating and cooling, and store electricity from intermittent renewable sources such as wind and solar. 

Optimising fluid flow and heat transport in heterogeneous aquifers and reservoirs is key to efficient and sustainable resource utilisation, but is challenging because flow and transport in the reservoir are 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.  We also collaborate with other departments, labs and institutes at Imperial College, including the Energy Futures Labthe Centre for Environmental Policy and the Grantham Institute.  We collaborate with the British Geological Survey and the University of Manchester in our work on storing energy in aquifers for heating and cooling (ATESHAC).

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.