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Geothermal heat powering volcanic monitoring stations in the Canary Islands

Picture of work on Electrovolcan project, Canary Islands (source: ITER)
Alexander Richter 30 Jul 2020

A scientific experiment of Instituto Tecnológico y de Energías Renovables (ITER), the Volcanológico Instituto de Canarias (Involcan), together with the Public University of Navarra, have successfully converted heat from geothermal manifestations into electricity as part of the Electrovolcan project.

A scientific experiment in which the Instituto Tecnológico y de Energías Renovables (ITER) and the Volcanológico Instituto de Canarias (Involcan), together with the Public University of Navarra, have successfully converted the heat from geothermal manifestations into electricity. This research opens new avenues for electricity supply in volcanic monitoring stations, contributing to their autonomous operation. It has been conducted in the Canary Islands, an autonomous region of Spain off the Northwestern coast of Africa.

The work, published in the international scientific journal SENSORS, breaks new ground for electricity supply in volcanic monitoring stations, contributing to their autonomous operation.

The Technological Institute and Renewable Energies (ITER) and the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (INVOLCAN), entities dependent on the area of ??Roads, Mobility and Innovation of the Tenerife Island Council, led by the Minister Enrique Arriaga, have participated in this scientific publication led by the Public University of Navarra (UPNA).

This publication is related to the ELECTROVOLCAN project (RTC-2017-6628-3) coordinated by the Technological and Renewable Energy Institute (ITER) and in which the Canary Islands Volcanological Institute (INVOLCAN), the Geological Institute also participate as partners and Spanish Miner (IGME) and the Tenerife Insular Energy Agency (AIET).

Geothermal manifestations in the surface environment are characterized by the presence of fumaroles and relatively high soil temperatures a few centimeters deep. The results recently published in the international scientific journal SENSORS analyzes the possibilities of thermoelectric generators, devices based on solid-state physics, to directly convert the heat of these geothermal manifestations into electricity due to the Seebeck effect.

The results of this work are related to the installation, for the first time, of a generator consisting of two bismuth telluride thermoelectric modules and heat pipes as heat exchangers in the Teide volcano (Canary Islands, Spain), where fumaroles exist. and soil temperatures reaching 82 degrees Celsius a few centimeters deep.

The installed thermoelectric generator has demonstrated the feasibility of the proposed solution, which leads to a compact generator with no moving parts to produce between 0.32 and 0.33 W per module as a consequence of a temperature difference of 69 to 86 degrees Celsius registered in the used heat reservoirs. These results are interesting due to the possibilities of supplying energy to the volcanic monitoring stations contributing to their autonomous operation.

The ELECTROVOLCAN project (RTC-2017-6628-3) “Design and experimental development of prototypes for electricity generation by thermoelectric effect in surface geothermal anomalies of volcanic origin: application in the volcanic systems of Timanfaya (Lanzarote) and Teide (Tenerife)” coordinated by ITER is co-financed by the Challenges-Collaboration Program of the National R&D Plan 2013-2016.

Source: ITER