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Wilcley Lima

Jul 12, 2017
11:18

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Interesting idea, but the proposal could use further development. A few questions come to mind:

Can you address how this compares to other potential geothermal development projects?

What is the expected impact on the park's geisers?

Can you give more details as to how you arrived at the installation cost numbers? 


Lenny Paritsky

Jul 13, 2017
11:12

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Thanks for posting the proposal. It's an interesting idea, but I believe that you need more detail in order to fully develop the concept. In particular, here are a few thoughts that I had while reading through it:

  • A project like this would have a major environmental impact on Yellowstone. It might be a good idea to spend more time discussing how the effects on the environment could be mitigated or offset.

 

  • It would be useful to see more detailed calculations (or references) for the energy that could be generated from a potential plant, along with comparisons to existing geothermal installations.

 

Best,

Lenny


Akbar Starkley

Jul 14, 2017
09:05

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Wilcley, Lenny thank you for the comments. I will work on a follow up to your questions and post in a day or so. 


Akbar Starkley

Jul 14, 2017
06:34

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Wilcley Lima: Can you address how this compares to other potential geothermal development projects?

Below are 5 of the top 6 geothermal power plants in the world. 

1. Geysers Geothermal Complex

- Location:                 Northern California, US

- Number of Power Plants:         18

- Installed Capacity:             1,575MW

- Active Production Capacity:         900MW

- Average Yield per Power Plant:     50MW

2. Larderello Geothermal Complex

- Location:                 Tuscany, Italy        

- Number of Power Plants:         34

- Installed Capacity:             769MW- Active Production Capacity:         

- Average Yield per Power Plant:     ~23MW

3. Cerro Prieto Geothermal Power Station 

- Location:                 Baja California, Mexico- Number of Power Plants:         4

- Installed Capacity:             720MW- Active Production Capacity:       

 - Average Yield per Power Plant:     180MW

4. CalEnergy Generation's Salton Sea Geothermal Plants

- Location:                 Calipatria, US- Number of Power Plants:       

 - Installed Capacity:             340MW- Active Production Capacity:         

- Average Yield per Power Plant:     34MW5. Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant

- Location:                 Hellisheidarvirkjun, Iceland- Number of Power Plants:         1

- Installed Capacity:             703MW

- Active Production Capacity:         303MW of electric energy and 400MW of thermal

- Average Yield per Power Plant:     303MW (electricity only)


Akbar Starkley

Jul 14, 2017
07:39

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Wilcley Lima: What is the expected impact on the park's geysers?

Unknown. 

Further, “denier” conversations are counterproductive. Everywhere is sacred. Climate Change changes everywhere. Nowhere will be untouched. There is no over there. WE in the science community cannot shy away from solutions to humanity’s most sincere threat to placate the interests of vanity.

As the Arctic calves into the sea, sea levels will rise to claim, more and more, of the world’s coastlines. With more water in the ocean and larger temperature differentials between land and sea, storms will become more common and will make landfall with increasing energy. Larger, fiercer, storms will wreak havoc on property and communities. Food will become scarce where once there was abundance. People will move in large numbers. Large-scale migrations will cause political unrest and will test the foundation of civil society. Tens of millions of human lives are directly at risk.

Is there a potential to change the park’s ecological dynamics? Yes. If we work smartly and work together can we explore and develop this natural resource responsibly? Yes. Should we explore the potential, the risks, weigh the pros and cons of local and global environmental impacts? Yes.

The Yellowstone caldera is a caldera—a volcano, designed by nature. The geysers show the way to an enormous energy potential. One day, maybe many thousands of years from today it is likely to erupt. What will be the expected impact on the park’s geysers then?

Yellowstone National Park was established 145 years ago. Back then they could not have predicted humanity’s impact on climate or what we now know to be the likely outcomes of burning fossil fuels. WE need to do everything thing we can—now. 

Better questions are: How long will you drive a gas car? When will fossil fuel burning engines be outlawed? The answers to these questions directly correlate to the availability of inexpensive electricity and electrified transportation. The best questions are: Who will help change Energy? Is the electrification through renewables more important than geysers?  


REFERENCE 
http://www.who.int/globalchange/climate/summary/en/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1446735/
https://health2016.globalchange.gov/climate-change-and-human-health
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_global_warming_on_humans
https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/


Akbar Starkley

Jul 14, 2017
08:18

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Lenny Paritsky: A project like this would have a major environmental impact on Yellowstone. It might be a good idea to spend more time discussing how the effects on the environment could be mitigated or offset.


No one person has all the answers. We need to group scientists, engineers, and business leaders to find our best way forward. 

Having said that, as an engineer, business leader, and someone who cares about the environment I have researched and developed my currently best approach (subject to change).


DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS

Minimize Environmental Impact

To minimize the impact to the environment the design must be as efficient in its generation of electricity as possible, and as insulated from the environment as much as possible. This suggests a closed, insulated, system design. 

Most geothermal applications in practice rely on the thermal energy from the Earth to heat water, to create steam, to turn a turbine to create electricity. There were several places where I believed the general approach could be improved.

In a typical installation, the Earth’s heat is drawn up to the surface to create steam, from a water source. This action warms the surrounding area (ground) releasing CO2 and water vapor as exhaust, into the atmosphere.

To minimize the interchange with the surrounding environment it must be as insulted as possible from the heat being drawn up from below. With modern boring technology it may now be possible to build the application in an insulated well.

To improve the overall efficiency of the system to create energy, insulation will help. Making it a closed system will also help. In a typical application, the steam (fire + water) is released into the atmosphere after turning the turbine in its path to create electricity. In a closed system the water vapor is recycled and reused. The heat and water are saved.

The generation of electricity is the job of the turbine. However, turbines may not be the most efficient way to create electricity from steam (). The Geothermal Piston is one possible alternative to the current methodology, there may be others.

For example, a more in depth conversation with science and engineering teams to explore generating electricity from plasma (e.g. Tokamaks) and distributing electricity with waveguides is needed.

No one person has all of the answers. Let’s team. Let’s explore.


Akbar Starkley

Jul 14, 2017
08:29

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The Yellowstone volcano is classed as a VEI-8: SuperVolcano.

"VEI-8, a SuperVolcano capable of holding and releasing the equivalent spherical volume of 10 Trillion cubic meters, a sphere with a diameter of 26 kilometers (nearly 17 miles)"

  • Yellowstone, US
  • Long Valley, US
  • Lake Toba, Indonesia 
  • Taupo, New Zealand

 

REFERENCE

http://modernsurvivalblog.com/volcano/how-big-are-volcano-magma-chambers/


Akbar Starkley

Jul 14, 2017
08:23

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Wilcley Lima: Can you give more details as to how you arrived at the installation cost numbers?

Lenny Paritsky: It would be useful to see more detailed calculations (or references) for the energy that could be generated from a potential plant, along with comparisons to existing geothermal installations.


GENERATION PROJECTIONS FOR AN IDEAL STIRLING ENGINE

ASSUMPTIONS: The Stirling Engine model scales, perfectly

Displacer Cylinder
d = 10.16 cm
h = 13.65 cm

Volume of Hot & Cold Side
Volume = 1,106.649134348935 cm^3

163,209 watts 

163,209/1,106.649134348935 = 147.480348499 watts per cubic centimeter

SCALING THE APPLICATION (from cm to m)

d = 10.16 m
h = 13.65 m
TC = 32 F (Average temperature at Yellowstone)
TH = 2,500F (Ideal hot temperature, from the magma)

Volume of Hot & Cold Side
Volume = 1,106,649.134348935 m^3

= (147.480348499 watts)(1,106,649 cubic meter) 
= 163,209 kW/m^3/hr

= (8,760 hrs/yr)(163,209 kWh) 
= 1,429,710,840 kW/yr


HOW MANY CYLINDERS DO WE NEED TO COVER 100 QUADRILLION Btu, (US YEARLY CONSUMPTION)?
= 100 QUADRILLION Btu
= 2.9E13 kW

CYLINDERS 
= 2.9E13 / 1.43 E09 
= 20,000


REFERENCE
A http://jordaan.info/greengasoline/stirling.html


Akbar Starkley

Jul 15, 2017
02:10

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HOW MANY CYLINDERS CAN FIT IN THE CALDERA (ANSWER: ~70,000)

10 mi radius = 16.0934 km ==> 814 square km = 8.140000E8m²

WHAT IS THE AREA OF ONE CYLINDER?

d = 10.16 m ==> 81 m^2


HOW MANY NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS IS ONE CYLINDER?

1 nuclear plant = 1,000kW 

= 8,760 hrs/yr X 1E6 kWh/yr 
= 8,760,000,000 kWh / 1,429,710,800  kWh  = 6


If roughly every ~10 cylinders is ONE nuclear plant. The Yellowstone Caldera has a ~7,000 nuclear power plant capacity potential. 


Theoretically all of the US current energy consumption could come from Geothermal wells 12 miles deep.

 


Akbar Starkley

Jul 15, 2017
04:45

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If the application were entirely constructed from Tungsten Carbide (which is more expensive than most other materials)

ESTIMATED SIZE OF STIRLING ENGINE
Hot, cold diameter     = 10.16 m
Height                        = 13.65 m
Walls                          = 2 m

Price            = $25.55 USD/kg (circa 2017)
Tungsten     = 19,600 kg/cubic meter

Volume of Cylinder Walls
4,426.6 - 2,855.37 = 1,571.23 cubic meters

= ($25.55 USD/kg)(19,600 kg/cubic meter)(1,571.23 cubic meter)

= $786,840,559

Hot side + Cold side = ~ 1.6 billion USD

Well + Insulation

= ($100E6 USD)(10)

= $1 billion USD

TOTAL

= Engine + Well + Delivery 

~ $3 billion USD 

PRICE PER KILO-WATT 

3 / 1.43 = $2/kW

Expensive! about 20 times the current average price per kWh in the US. There may be ways to reduce costs with other materials and better estimates.

 

REFERENCE

http://www.therobbinscompany.com/products/tunnel-boring-machines/single-shield/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-high-tech-low-cost-world-of-tunnel-building-1461549887


Akbar Starkley

Aug 15, 2017
05:30

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Read the full proposal here ... The Yellowstone Caldera Project 


Betsy Agar

Aug 22, 2017
01:42

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Thank you for prompting this interesting conversation. Mr. Lima and Mr. Paritsky have drawn out some important technical information that augments your proposal, but I think they also allude to the very real challenge of salability of such a large scale project and in such a beloved location. While it might be ideal that we recognize the urgency of our challenge and not let sentiment get in the way of the best technology, I think people are hesitant about big projects because of the irreversibility of them and unfortunately, "too big to fail" is not a maxim that tends to hold up and distributed energy not only benefits local producers/economies, but also develops resilience.

The subject of resilience leads me to a question about grid capacity, and more generally, modernization that allows for "islanding" of certain sections of the grid, have you considered grid capacity and whether a centralized power generator at a distance from high density urban centres (where the power is most needed) is the best approach? Also, many experts in the geothermal field would argue that heat should remain heat and that converting it to electricity creates too many losses to be worthwhile, is your PIE so effective that it negates this thinking? Especially given heating homes and domestic hot water is also a pressing challenge for renewable energy develops.

Again, thank you for provoking thought!


Akbar Starkley

Aug 23, 2017
01:01

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Hello Betsy,

Thank you for your post on The Yellowstone Caldera Project.

Your interest and concerns are appreciated. I am working on a reply and will post by the end of the week. 

Akbar Starkley


Akbar Starkley

Aug 27, 2017
04:24

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A Closer Look at Piston Induction Engine (PIE)

Piston to Electromagnetic Induction (PIE).gif

Feasibility 

PIE works on two well known principles: pressure-volume work and electromagnetic induction

Heat applied to a gas will cause the gas to expand. The expanding gas causes pressure to be applied to the walls of the container of the gas. This is the basic physics behind doing work with a piston, just like the ones in your car's engine. 

When a magnet is moved through a coiled wire (a conductor) the change in magnet field induces an electric current into the conductor, this is how we make electricity (technically you could say PIE is a generator). 

PIE uses the heat from the hot rock (lava) to heat water to create steam to move a piston, much like an Alpha Stirling Engine. The difference between PIE and a Stirling Engine is that PIE uses the motion of the piston to generate electricity. 

Akbar Starkley


Akbar Starkley

Aug 27, 2017
04:59

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How Much Electricity Can PIE Generate?

Electrical Power from Induction Model

Assumption(s):
    Piston Speed
            Upstroke                                = 280 m/s
            Downstroke                            = 28 m/s
            Mean Piston Speed (MPS)    = 154 m/s  

    Dimensions
    r1, radius of inner cylinder             = 8 m
    r2, radius outer cylinder                 = 10 m    
    h1, height of inner cylinder            = 280 m
    h2, height of outer cylinder            = 300 m

    Number of Loops                           = 10,000    
    Area of Each Loop                         = 25?? m2
    Magnetic Field                               = 1 Tesla
    Coil Rotation Frequency                = 2,262 RPM
    Time of Rotation                            = 1/s
    EMF Induced                                 = 10,659,000 kV

Per Hour
    Number of Strokes Per Hour 
        Distance travelled by the Piston Per Hour    
        = (VMPS)(3,600 s)
        = (154 m/s)(3,600 s)
        = 554,400 m

       (Distance travelled by the Piston Per Hour)/(Distance of Stroke)
       = (554,400 m)/(280 m)
       = 1,980 strokes

       Capacity: How Much Voltage is Generated in an Hour?
       = (1,980)(10,659,000 kV)
       = 21,104,820,000 kV/h

Per Year
     How Much Voltage is Generated in an Year?
     = (21,104,820,000 kV/h)(8,760 h/yr)
     = 1.85 x 1014 kV/yr


Akbar Starkley

Aug 27, 2017
04:12

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How Big is PIE?

The dimensions for PIE can vary. For the previous example PIE is about as tall as two Washington Monuments and 15 PIE can fit in the space of a football. 

Piston Induction Engine (front view).png

PIE (view top down)-2.png

PIEs (view top down).png


Akbar Starkley

Aug 27, 2017
05:31

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How Many PIE Do We Need?

"Primary energy consumption in the United States in 2016 totaled 97.4 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu)"

If we consider the US energy consumption in total (not just electricity) the US consumed 97.4 quadrillion Btu from all sources. 

97.4 quadrillion Btu = 2.86E13 kWh

Assuming we can convert the potential energy generated in kV/h to kWh (there will likely be some power loss here)

In the example, PIE generates 21,104,820,000 kV/h ~ 21,104,820,000 kWh. In round numbers we would need 2,000 PIE to cover the US energy consumption in 2016. 2,000 PIE have a footprint of 134 football fields. Not bad if you want to save the planet. 

 

 

 

 


Akbar Starkley

Aug 27, 2017
05:52

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To distribute the considerable additional power the grid will need added capacity. 

Transmission Cost Calculation (WECC developed by Black & Veatch)
Total Transmission Line Cost = [(2014 Base Transmission Cost)(Conductor Multiplier) x (Structure Multiplier) x (Re?conductor Multiplier) x (Terrain Multiplier) + (ROW Acres/Mile) x (Land Cost/Acre)] x (# of Miles)

Total Transmission Line Cost - New England
= [($1,613,200 )(3.60)(1.50)(1)(2.25) + (225)(27.27) ($34,141)] (2,461 mi)
= $564 Bn USD

Total Transmission Line Cost - San Francisco
= [($1,613,200 )(3.60)(1.50)(1)(2.25) + (225)(27.27) ($34,141)] (935 mi) 
= $214 Bn USD

Total Transmission Line Cost - Los Angels
= [($1,613,200 )(3.60)(1.50)(1)(2.25) + (225)(27.27) ($34,141)] (1,008 mi) 
= $231 Bn USD         
            
Total Transmission Line Cost - San Diego
= [($1,613,200 )(3.60)(1.50)(1)(2.25) + (225)(27.27) ($34,141)] (1,069 mi) 
= $245 Bn USD

Substation costs will also need to be added to these totals. 

 


Michal Monit

Sep 4, 2017
04:33

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Hi Akbar!

You're proposing some very interesting new combination of technologies! Newer heard of PIE before!

Regarding geothermal part of the proposal, have you seen the Icelandic Deep Drilling Project (IDDP)? They've been trying to tap into the energy of magma chambers using deep, geothermal wells for 10+ years now. It's no easy task!

After having a look at your proposal I do think you'll run into major techno-economic hurdles. Few examples: 
- Typical geothermal wells do not exceed 0.5-0.8m in diameter, at the top, whereas you're proposing 10+ meter diameters in very harsh ambient and operating conditions,
- Costs of geothermal wells tend to increase exponentially with depth; IDDP got to ~4.5km, while you're suggesting going down as much as 10km deep, 
- you suggest piston speeds of ~280m/s; that's more than cruising speeds of planes and not that far from speed of sound; for comparison, in stroke engines, the cylinders' avg. speeds stay under 30m/s for top-performing engines and are likely far-from-optimal for maximizing the efficiency of the PIE;
- you might want to check some of your numbers for consistency and units, e.g. "100 QUADRILLION Btu
= 2.9E13 kW"
;   100 quadrillion BTU = 100 * 1055 * 10^15 [J] = 1.055*10^20 [J] =  3.34e+12 [W] * (8765*60*60) [s] = 3.34E9 [kW] * [yr], which is in fact orders of magnitude less power required than comes from your estimations). 

Apart from the technical and cost issues there's also the question of risk of induced seismicity with Enhanced Geothermal Systems. And since we're not talking about any normal drilling, but the Yellowstone supervolcano, any major mistake could lead to humanity-level disaster. On the flip side, we wouldn't have to worry about global warming for a while!

I think geothermal energy has bright future, as researched by MIT. However, as Betsy, I imagine it much more distributed. 

Lastly, have you considered concentrated solar power (CSP) + Sterling engines, as potential alternative application for the PIE?

Cheers, 
Michal


Akbar Starkley

Sep 4, 2017
08:13

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Hi Michal, let me clarify regards the depth of the well. The purpose of drilling the well is to reach a temperature hot enough to boil water. To create steam. To turn a turbine. Or to create enough steam pressure to raise a piston, just like in a steam engine. The average operating temperature for a steam engine is around 200 degrees Centigrade. 

The higher the temperature of the well, and the wider the drilled hole, means fewer wells will be needed to generate the same amount of electricity, so there is a tradeoff. In general a deeper well will result in more of an electrical yield over a given period of time, however drilling to 10 km may not be necessary.

https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Steam_Locomotive_Operation


Akbar Starkley

Sep 4, 2017
08:20

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"Typical geothermal wells do not exceed 0.5-0.8m in diameter, at the top, whereas you're proposing 10+ meter diameters in very harsh ambient and operating conditions"


You are correct, if we choose to go the traditional geothermal route then a 0.5-0.8m diameter hole is all that is needed.


If we choose to use PIE to generate electrical power then it will not be a traditional geothermal well size. 

To accommodate PIE the well can be drilled with the same diameter of a traditional well (0.5-0.8m) to depth, and used to heat a chamber above that is 15 meters in diameter closer to the surface, like a pot on stove top. The PIE pictured is 300 meters tall and needs a large cold reservoir for the piston to work, the gas in the piston must expand on the upstroke and compress on the downstroke. Just like in a steam engine. The cold reservoir is either a body of water on the surface or the atmosphere itself.

Therefore, my suggestion is to drill as wide and as deep as is safe and cost effective. Use the Earth’s heat to heat PIE’s housing chamber, similar to Old Faithful. The top 300 meters will be bored, vertically, by a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) which can build an insulated well of 15 meters.

  


Akbar Starkley

Sep 4, 2017
09:24

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"you suggest piston speeds of ~280m/s; that's more than cruising speeds of planes and not that far from speed of sound; for comparison, in stroke engines, the cylinders' avg. speeds stay under 30m/s for top-performing engines and are likely far-from-optimal for maximizing the efficiency of the PIE"

While PIE’s piston works just like a piston in your car’s engine the most significant difference is that PIE generates electrical power through magnetic induction, it does not do mechanical work. There are no mechanical linkages between one PIE and another. There is no camshaft/valves/drive shaft/differential/or axle to turn. The torque applied to the camshaft, in part, limits the safe speed of the pistons in your car. The amount of pressure the piston housing can withstand is another. The speed of the PIE piston is only limited by the amount of gas pressure it can withstand and the how quickly it can dissipate heat.

If you think of a bullet in a rifle barrel with the barrel submerged in water you would get a better idea of the upper limit of the PIE piston. 


Akbar Starkley

Sep 5, 2017
02:56

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- you might want to check some of your numbers for consistency and units, e.g. "100 QUADRILLION Btu
= 2.9E13 kW"
 ;   100 quadrillion BTU = 100 * 1055 * 10^15 [J] = 1.055*10^20 [J] =  3.34e+12 [W] * (8765*60*60) [s] = 3.34E9 [kW] * [yr], which is in fact orders of magnitude less power required than comes from your estimations). 

1 Btu           = 0.000293071 kWh

1E15 Btu     = 2.93071E11 kWh

100E15 Btu = 2.93071E13 kWh

Electrical Power Generation of one (1) PIE:  21,104,820,000 kWh = 2.1E10 kWh

How many PIEs are need to cover the yearly energy consumption of the US (~100 quadrillion Btu)?

= (2.93071 E13 kW) / (2.1E10 kWh)

1,396 PIEs

You are correct, three orders of magnitudes in fact. In round numbers we need 2,000 PIE to cover 100 quadrillion Btu. Given the dimensions for PIE that I have proposed 15 PIE fit in a football field, goal line to goal line. 

How much area do we need for 2,000 PIE?

100 yards x 53.33 yards = (91.44 m)(48.76m) ==> 5 across, 3 down (includes some space between PIEs)

2,000 / 15 ==> 134 football fields, or 8,917,228.8m^2

 


Akbar Starkley

Sep 5, 2017
03:43

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"there's also the question of risk of induced seismicity with Enhanced Geothermal Systems. And since we're not talking about any normal drilling, but the Yellowstone supervolcano, any major mistake could lead to humanity-level disaster."

You are correct. A mistake could be disastrous for humanity. That is why my proposal calls for an international consortium of scientists to study the risks of drilling into the caldera. 


Akbar Starkley

Sep 5, 2017
03:57

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"I think geothermal energy has bright future, as researched by MIT. However, as Betsy, I imagine it much more distributed."

How Yellowstone National Park might have gotten missed in the study you referenced ....

"The only area excluded from the calculation is Yellowstone National Park (8,980 km2). It represents a large area of high temperature, and so its exclusion affects the resource- base calculation of areas at high temperature at shallow depths." 

 

Table 1.1 Estimated U.S. geothermal resource base to 10 km depth by category. 

* Excludes Yellowstone National Park and Hawaii 


Akbar Starkley

Sep 5, 2017
05:56

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"Costs of geothermal wells tend to increase exponentially with depth; IDDP got to ~4.5km...."

If costs increase exponentially with depth and IDDP has drilled to 4.5km, considering Figure 2.7a Average temperature at 3.5 km. shows the only place in the US measured above 300 degrees Centigrade at 3.5km depth is the Yellowstone volcano, and further Figure 2.7d shows that the Yellowstone volcano is the only site in the conus US hotter than 300 degrees Centigrade at 6.5km below the surface, where would be better?

Geothermal does have a bright future if we use science and data to make smart decisions.


Akbar Starkley

Sep 5, 2017
06:57

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"Lastly, have you considered concentrated solar power (CSP) + Sterling engines, as potential alternative application for the PIE?"

Can explain further? 

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