WIRED Magazine on DNA particles used for tracing fracture flows

ThermaSource drilling rig 105 (source:
Alexander Richter 22 Sep 2015

New research is looking into using DNA particles in tracers used to track flows through fractures between different wells drilled into geothermal reservoirs.

Wired Magazie covers a geothermal story today in conjunction with the GRC Annual Meeting and the GEA Geothermal Energy Expo here in Reno.

Going into the industry looking at creating own reservoirs “by drilling into hot rock and pumping in water”, the article looks at the challenges of EGS. Particularly, it looks at the challenge of not being able to follow up what is happening underground.

New research done is now looking into using DNA fragments being pumped into wells to help follow the path of water in those reservoirs underground. This is to help figuring out the flows between a production and a re-injection well and to see where “initial wells opened up fractures, or how long they are. So they’re trying to map them by tracking the flow of water underground.”

Currently, tracers using chemicals, radioactive elements and fluorescent dyes are used. This always provides the danger of chemical reactions distorting results or simply dissolving the tracers. Some of the research on those methods was presented at the World Geothermal Congress this year.


Now a research group is looking into a way to make sure that these complications don´t happen and DNA seems to be the solution, according to Prof. Roland Horne, a geothermal engineer at Stanford University. “With specific DNA tags—even if you lose some of them—you would be able to know exactly where you injected a tag and at what time.”


The article describes this in a bit more detail and definitely is worth reading. See link below.

Source: Wired