Green Fire Energy plans to utilize CO2 for geothermal power project

Alexander Richter 22 Feb 2010

Utah-based GreenFire Energy plans to tap naturally occurring carbon dioxide (C02) from the St. Johns Dome formation, as a carrier for geothermal heat and source for a 2 MW geothermal power plant.

Reported by Greenwire, New York Times, “Geothermal startup, GreenFire Energy is hoping to use the world’s most abundant greenhouse gas to extract heat buried deep below the Arizona high desert, while preventing millions of tons of the gas from ever reaching the atmosphere.

Utah-based GreenFire Energy plans to tap naturally occurring carbon dioxide (C02) from the St. Johns Dome formation about a half-mile underneath the Arizona-New Mexico border near the town of Springerville, Ariz.

The CO2, once compressed to a supercritical state, will then be reinjected into a deeper formation to carry heat to the surface and power a 2-megawatt geothermal plant. Meanwhile, a small portion of the CO2 is expected to become permanently trapped in porous underground rocks.

Power plants and other industrial facilities will also eventually be able to pipe their CO2 emissions to GreenFire’s wells, to both boost geothermal power production and reduce overall CO2 emissions, said Randy Balik, the firm’s vice president of business development.

“It could be a game-changing electric generation technology,” Balik said.

GreenFire plans to drill a series of exploratory wells this year using about 235,000 acres of state and private lands leased by Enhanced Oil Resources Inc., which holds rights to the CO2. The two companies in September announced a joint venture giving GreenFire exclusive access to CO2 within the dome to be used in a geothermal demonstration.

“We’re going to be the first ones to attempt proof-of-concept and deployment in the field,” Balik said.

If successful, GreenFire hopes to eventually build 50-megawatt modular geothermal plants that would use naturally occurring CO2 from the St. Johns Dome as well as that from industrial suppliers.

Even without the additional supply, the dome’s naturally occurring CO2 — created by past volcanic activity — could power geothermal operations for decades. But Balik said GreenFire is committed to using emissions from area power plants, which could also provide an additional revenue stream for the firm.

Two such plants, the Coronado and Springerville generating stations, are located near the dome and emit a combined 11 million tons of CO2 annually. Those facilities, combined with an additional four coal-fired power plants in the broader region, account for nearly 100 million tons of CO2 each year, all of which could be stored or channeled through the geothermal formation, Balik said.

“The long-term vision is to use anthropogenic CO2 as the geothermal fluid, but there’s not a lot of anthropogenic CO2 available right now,” Balik said.”

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Source: New York Times