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Power Hardware Science

Volcano Power Plan Gets US Go-Ahead 114

cylonlover writes "Having successfully negotiated the challenging regulatory slopes of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Department of Energy, and a host of Oregon state agencies, the Newberry Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) demonstration project is in the process of creating a new geothermal reservoir in central Oregon. The core of the new reservoir is a two mile (3.2 km) deep well drilled about four miles (6.4 km) from the center of Newberry Volcano. The rock surrounding the wellbore reaches temperatures in the order of 600 F (300 C), and is nearly impermeable to water. That, however, is about to change. Newberry Volcano is one of the largest and youngest volcanoes in the United States. Having last erupted about 1,300 years ago, it consists of over 400 individual volcanic vents, which, when combined, form a broad mounded landform referred to as a shield volcano. The Newberry EGS Demonstration geothermal reservoir is being formed in the high-temperature, low-permeability deep lava of the volcano's northwest flank."
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Volcano Power Plan Gets US Go-Ahead

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  • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:23AM (#41851683) Journal

    I think the volume of ground affected by fracking is quite a bit larger than that hole being drilled into the volcano, and the goal with fracking is to mess around with the pressure under the surface, where ideally this is close a pressure neutral (volume changing, and that, I suspect will happen at/above surface level) system. Lastly, waste products from fracking tend not to be well controlled/cleaned except maybe on paper, the water (or other liquid) use here should be in a fairly closed system and shouldn't be introduced to toxic chemicals. Not that this is the wisest idea either, but an experimental site should provide interesting details as to the danger.

    Your comment could similarly read as:

    Stalin (who was once a baby) is horrible
    but other people are perfectly fine.

    Yeah, I know. One is "human" the other is "a madman".

  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:25AM (#41851697)

    Iceland does this
    They get lots of power from geothermal

  • by biodata ( 1981610 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @09:17AM (#41852063)
    On the other hand, Iceland generates all its power from geothermal and hydro AFAIR, and has no oil or naptha power (whatever that is). I think there might be an issue with who does it rather than the underlying technology. Incidentally, Iceland has also sent top bankers to jail for fraud over the financial crisis, and recently come out of recession and into positive growth with reducing unemployment. I think they just do things differently.
  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @09:43AM (#41852303)

    Oh come on. What could possibly go wrong?

    Other than some barely perceptible tremors in an unpopulated area? By drawing heat out of the volcano, it will make it less likely to erupt. The waste water will have lots of sulfer, but that also occurs naturally. I don't see any serious concerns.

    Unlike other green energy sources, geothermal can provide reliable 24/7/365 baseload power. We should be encouraging projects like this.


  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @11:30AM (#41853507)

    The waste water will have lots of sulfer, but that also occurs naturally.

    Well, there's a serious concern right there. Dose makes the poison.

    And we need to consider what's attached to that sulfur. It usually isn't elemental sulfur. Metals such as iron, lead, copper, etc are usually attached. They're naturally occurring as well, but not in the concentrations dealt with in hydrothermal fluid.

    Having said that, it's merely a serious problem that adds cost to the system, not an insurmountable one.

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:20PM (#41854877)

    The waste water will have lots of sulfer, but that also occurs naturally.

    Well, there's a serious concern right there. Dose makes the poison.

    Ideally, your primary water loop is self-contained and thus never leaves the system (volcano and primary geothermal equipment in this case). You send the water down, it picks up heat and sulfur and other stuff, it comes up. Then you run it through a heat exchanger where the heat (and only the heat) is transferred to a second water loop. That second loop is what drives your turbine generators. The reason for this isn't environmental protection. It's to protect the generators from corrosion and all sorts of crud that might be in the primary loop water.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears