Reflections On Stanford Geothermal Workshop
One of the key challenges in enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) is to understand how a fluid flows in the fracture network created by the stimulation processes. What is the extent of the fractures? What are their aperture? Are they connected? Is the surface of exchange between the fluid (water most of the time) and the hot rocks large enough to recover most of the heat present in the rocks? All these questions are fundamental for the success of any EGS project.
This “hot” topic was largely discussed during the last Stanford Geothermal Workshop held at Stanford University, Stanford, CA, between February 22nd and 24th, 2016 where more than 400 scientists from all over the world gather to present their latest findings and discuss innovative ideas.
Among all the papers presented on this subject, one particularly caught my attention.
It was presented by Ana Suzuki and collaborators who have used a 3D printer to create artificial and well controlled fracture network models with different geometric characteristics. They inject tracers in the created plastic model to map the fractures and then compare their results in terms of fractures properties to the results obtained by numerical simulation on the same geometry (see figure). The numerical modelling is thus calibrated and the tracers can now be used to characterize real fracture networks. This is quite an achievement!
Ana Suzuki is postdoc at Stanford University in the Geothermal Program of Prof. Roland Horne. You can learn more about Ana’s research here.
About the Author
Dr. Alain Bonneville is a Laboratory Fellow at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. He is the Principal Investigator for the NEWGEN project, one of the Department of Energy’s FORGE sites.