Research Papers: Alternative Energy Sources

Feasibility of Using More Geothermal Energy to Generate Electricity

[+] Author and Article Information
Kaufui Vincent Wong, Nathanael Tan

Department of Mechanical and
Aerospace Engineering,
University of Miami,
Coral Gables, FL 33146

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF ENERGY RESOURCES TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received April 2, 2014; final manuscript received July 3, 2014; published online March 9, 2015. Editor: Hameed Metghalchi.

J. Energy Resour. Technol 137(4), 041201 (Jul 01, 2015) (6 pages) Paper No: JERT-14-1095; doi: 10.1115/1.4028138 History: Received April 02, 2014; Revised July 03, 2014; Online March 09, 2015

Human population is ever-increasing and, thus, demand for energy is escalating. Consequently, seeking clean methods of producing electricity is a most crucial endeavor at this time. The shrinking reserves of oil have added urgency to the matter as well. One other recognized source of renewable energy besides wind, water, and solar (WWS) is geothermal energy, which has been proven to be useful in baseload power generation, a significant advantage over WWS. As compared to fossil fuels, geothermal energy is not subjected to the supply and cost fluctuations of which fuel is at risk. To date, there have been a number of innovative procedures explored to use geothermal energy to produce electricity. A relatively innovative yet not uncommon method has been to use hot solid rocks to heat water and pump the superheated water to use in power plants. These rocks are generally underground and at higher temperatures due to their proximity to volcanoes or natural geothermal vents. The water goes deeper down into the earth's crust to become superheated by the rocks, and then is pumped out to power turbines, and subsequently returned into the ground to repeat the process. In Krafla, Iceland, during their Icelandic Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) in 2009, a borehole was accidentally dug into the magma at 2100 m. The temperature of this magma was about 900–1000 °C. A steel casing with perforations on the flat side was cemented into the well bottom. This design was to slow the heat flow, and superheated steam was made for the following two years till July 2012. The steam reached temperatures of 450 °C and was at high pressures. Krafla was the world's first magma-enhanced geothermal system (EGS) to generate electricity. This paper will explore the feasibility of using geothermal power plant methods as a sustainable source of clean energy. Geothermal energy has tremendous potential if the right methods can be found to tap that potential, as well as if the cost may be brought down by innovation and demand. In addition, an innovative method, which already exists in some form, is proposed in the current review to harness more geothermal energy for use.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Tectonic plates and areas with volcanoes [14]

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Installed geothermal power plants [15]



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