Low temperature micro-geothermal engines to utilise abandoned oil and gas wells

Low temperature micro-geothermal engines to utilise abandoned oil and gas wells Oil Well in Reagan County, Texas (source: flickr/ J. Stephen Conn, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 21 May 2016

A new approach to utilise geothermal energy from abandoned oil and gas wells is being developed by scientists at the University of Alberta in Calgary. With micro-geothermal engines it is hoped to generate electricity from abandoned wells.

In a recent piece written for Canadian paper The Globe and Mail, Todd Hirsch a Calgary-based economist, wrote about a unique and innovative approach utilising geothermal energy from abandoned oil and gas wells.

Describing it as a mixture of “nanotechnology, 3-D printing and a bunch of really smart geologists”, he talks about new “low temperature micro-geothermal engines”, being developed by geologists and engineers at the University of Alberta.

“The geothermal engines at the U of A are basically a redesign of something that’s been around for more than two centuries: the external combustion engine. Using nanotechnology – which enables scientists to construct things at the molecular level – the engines can be designed to be about the size of an inflatable kids’ pool and a couple of metres high. In the words of Dr. Jonathan Banks, the geologist and lead researcher at the university, “we’re going to optimize the bejeezus out of it” using nanotechnology.”

The small units being developed could be placed on top of abandoned oil and gas wells, pulling up hot brine water from a depth of about 2,000 meters. The heat of the water could then be utilised by these micro-geothermal units to generate electricity to be fed into the grid.

“One engine could produce enough electricity to power 100 homes. And the best part of it is that using 3-D printing, the cost of producing one will be a few hundred thousand dollars, not millions or billions. They’d be compact, easy to install and simple to connect to the electricity grid.”

To read the full article see link below.

Source: Todd Hirsch