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New Zealand’s GNS Science opens new geothermal laboratory

Maori Waka (war canoe) in New Zealand (source: flickr/ easegill, creative commons)
Francisco Rojas 6 Aug 2014

GNS Science has opened a full service geothermal and groundwater laboratory in New Zealand this week after a $4 million upgrade.

The 1100 square metre facility, at GNS Science’s Wairakei campus north of Taupo, houses multiple specialist laboratories. This includes the New Zealand Geothermal Analytical Laboratory, the GNS Science Extremophile Laboratory, and other specialist analytical facilities.

There have been laboratories on the site since the 1940s and earlier facilities were integral to the development of the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station in the 1950s and 1960s. More recently, they have played a crucial role in the renaissance of geothermal energy since 2004.

“The New Zealand Geothermal Analytical Laboratory is without peer in the Southern Hemisphere. Its mix of research and commercial work supports geothermal energy operators in New Zealand, iwi, and regional councils in their geothermal exploration and development initiatives, in environmental monitoring, and also for power station efficiency and consenting needs,” Dr Bignall said.

The investment in the upgrade would ensure the highest scientific standards were available to support the growth of the geothermal energy industry in New Zealand into the future, he said.

Geothermal energy contributes about 15 percent of New Zealand’s baseload electricity generation and scientists believe there is potential to double this by 2025.

As well as servicing the New Zealand geothermal energy industry, the facility assists geothermal energy development in the Philippines, Indonesia, East Africa, Peru, and Chile.

Key points:

  • The upgrade occurred over 18 months and was done in stages to minimise interruptions to workflow and productivity
  • The lab equipment has been upgraded to industry best standards, and there have been accompanying improvements to workflow and procedures
  • The ‘new’ facility is capable of a wider range of analyses and can do them with more precision than before
  • It has a higher output, so turnaround times have been reduced
  • The NZ Geothermal Analytical Lab (NZGAL) analyses about 8500 fluid and gas samples each year
  • The Lab has analysed samples from every geothermal field in New Zealand
  • Nine countries routinely send samples to the Lab for analysis
  • The Lab can analyse for 30 different elements or compounds, and is capable of other specialist measurements to meet client needs
  • Its unique attribute is the combination of sophisticated analyses and expert interpretation of the results. This is invaluable to the geothermal industry in New Zealand.

Source: Press release from GNS Science Website