Jun 10, 2011

Science Scene - CeOThermal?

Krafla Geothermal Power Station in Iceland Ásgeir Eggertsson via Wikimedia
Common geothermal electricity setups generally involve extracting hot water from subterranean rock formations deep inside the Earth’s crust and using that heat to turn turbines. Common carbon sequestration schemes involve pumping carbon dioxide from the surface deep into the ground to prevent it from becoming atmospheric CO2
In any case, two University of Minnesota Earth Sciences researchers were able to put two and two together. What would happen, they asked, if you replaced the water in conventional geothermal rigs with compressed carbon dioxide? Models suggest that the new CO2-based method--termed CO2-plume geothermal, or CPG--should work just as well if not better, with the added benefit of sequestering carbon dioxide in the ground.

In fact, the researchers think it could work even better than water. For one, carbon dioxide penetrates porous rock more easily than water, so it could potentially be used in areas where conventional water-based geothermal would'nt work. Moreover, CO2 won’t dissolve minerals it comes in contact with as readily as water, so there’s less of a chance of CPG suffering from the mineral blockages that water can cause.
It’s important to note that this is just an idea at this point--the duo has applied for DOE funding (in addition to that it has already received for studies) to take CPG to the pilot stage. But if it works, it could be big.


  1. I wonder how long and how well funded the project will be given the current political climate. I would think that the global warming deniers and those in the pocket of big oil would be stingy with the money.

  2. This is an interesting concept. I wonder how much financial backing they'll get?

  3. I love it when I hear of someone coming up with a great theory, you must have the idea before it becomes reality. Most don't, but when they do we all benefit! Hope it proves feasable!


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