Solutions to Materials Challenges in Geothermal


Winter 2019

Geothermal energy – energy right beneath our feet – has an enormous potential with a proven reliability to meet heating, cooling and flexible electricity generation demands. With a low carbon footprint, this largely untapped natural and renewable energy resource has the capacity to offer a sustainable and clean energy future.

Despite the opportunities offered, exploitation of geothermal resources continues to remain a challenge, often due to the high investment and operational costs of geothermal power plants. The Secure, clean and efficient energy work programme within Horizon 20201 supports research, demonstration, innovation and market-uptake actions across different low-carbon energy sectors including the Deep geothermal energy as part of its strategy to make the EU global leader in renewables. The calls to date have concentrated on developing the next generation of renewable energy technologies through innovative materials (corrosion-/temperature-/wear-resistant, enhanced heat transfer), increased performance (drilling), improved cost effectiveness (plant flexibility), optimisation of plant operations (geo-fluid characterisation) and the reduction of emissions.

Hellisheiði Power Plant


Addressing materials challenges in geothermal: Collaborative Initiatives As Part of EC H2020 programme.


GeoCoat2: Developing Next Generation Coatings for Geothermal Power Plant

The project is developing novel high performance, specialised corrosion- and erosion-resistant coatings for geothermal applications. These high performance corrosion and erosion resistant coatings are based on selected high entropy alloys (HEAs) and ceramic/metal mixtures (Cermets) to be applied through high velocity oxy fuel (HVOF) thermal spray, electro spark deposition (ESD), electroless plating, and laser cladding. The novel materials are being tested both in both simulated and real geothermal environment at the Hellisheiði geothermal power plant.


Geo-Drill3: Holistic Drilling Solutions for Cheaper Geothermal Power

The project aims to reduce the high costs associated with drilling by addressing the materials challenges associated with the wear and fracture of drilling components. The Geo-Drill concept is based on three technology pillars:
a) Reduced drilling cost through hydraulic DownTheHolefluid/mud hammer;
b) Advanced drill monitoring through low-cost and robust 3D printed sensors;
c) Improved component life through advanced materials and coatings.
The strength of these technologies will be combined to meet the unified objective of developing novel drilling technologies that will significantly reduce the cost of deep geothermal drilling, with a targeted depth of 5 km and high temperatures of 250°C and above.


GeoSmart4: Towards Flexible and Efficient Geothermal Systems

GeoSmart aims to optimise and demonstrate innovations to improve the flexibility and efficiency of geothermal heat and power systems, by developing a suite of equipment and tools including: a) Energy storage and power block management innovations to provide daily flexibility;
b) Integrate more flexible Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) systems that can cope with variations in needs in the electricity markets;
c) Combine Heat and Power (CHP) supplier to extract more heat from the post-generator ("waste" heat) brine outflows when required for increased heating supply during colder weather.


S4CE5: A Well-established Interdisciplinary Network of Scientists to Trust the Environmental Safety of Geoenergy Operations

S4CE aims to develop, test and implement technologies needed for successfully detecting, quantifying and mitigating the risks connected with geo-energy operations in the sub-surface. S4CE's ambition is to develop and implement state-ofthe-art technologies to assess the environmental footprint of geo-energy sub-surface operations in EU. The project promotes the benefits of a multi-sensor approach in managing sub-surface operations. The project is deploying advanced instrumentation in three existing field sites in Europe; the CarbFix site in Iceland, one geothermal operation in Cornwall and a water-gas well in St. Gallen, Switzerland.


GeoHex6: Towards enhanced heat exchangers performance

GeoHex aims to develop heat exchanger (HX) materials addressing both improvements in anti-scaling and anti-corrosion properties, as well as, heat transfer performance, leading to more efficient and costeffective systems. The project relies on the use of low cost carbon steel as the base material for the HX. Through modifying the surface with nano porous coatings and controlling the surface chemistry (along with the surface structure), GeoHex will significantly improve the heat transfer performance of single phase and phase change heat transfer processes, respectively. The project relies on the use of Ni-P/Ni-P-PTFE duplex and amorphous metal glass coatings to attribute the anti-scaling and anti-corrosion properties to the low-cost carbon steel substrates.


GEOPRO7: Understanding Geofluid Chemistry

Project GEOPRO is designed to generate targeted advances in the understanding and modelling of geofluid characteristics, to support geothermal users by:
a) Supporting improved design efficiency – knowledge-based design of wellbore, pipework, heat exchangers for optimal conversion of the primary energy into electrical power;
b) Enabling knowledge-based design activities for best control of the constraining fluid phenomena (such as scale formation, outgassing, cavitation during changes in temperature and pressure), maximising uptime and operational effectiveness of the plant;
c) Providing underpinning knowledge for the future exploration and exploitation of supercritical systems through improved "vectors to ore" arising from the ability to better use fluid chemistry to predict deep subterranean conditions.