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  • Writer's picturePetroGem Inc.

Unleashing Earth's Fiery Power: Geomechanics of Superhot Rock

Updated: Aug 18, 2023

Welcome to this new series of blog posts as we venture into the thrilling world of Superhot Rock Resources (SHR). Discover the fascinating realm of superhot geomechanics and unravel the rock mechanics mysteries hidden within SHR.


SHR: Conquering the Realm of Hades


The world's growing energy demands have triggered a hunt for innovative and sustainable sources of power. Among the vast array of possibilities, superhot rock (SHR) resources have emerged as a promising option (Fugure 1). These resources hold the potential to provide a tremendous amount of geothermal energy, surpassing what conventional geothermal reservoirs can offer. However, tapping into this potential comes with a unique set of challenges and complexities.


Figure 1. Different types of geothermal systesm (Source: Hill, 2021).


Embracing the Challenges of SHR


While SHR resources offer an abundance of geothermal energy, the high costs associated with subsurface operations pose financial challenges. As technology advances and our understanding of geomechanics progresses, the economic feasibility of tapping into SHR resources is likely to improve.


Unveiling New Frontiers


Around the world, several research and development projects are dedicated to exploring the potential of SHR resources. These initiatives aim to overcome the obstacles and unlock the full capabilities of this revolutionary energy source. Collaboration between academic institutions, industry experts, and governments is paving the way for innovative solutions and best practices.


Figure 2. Superhot drilling and research sites around the world (Source: Hill, 2021).


Unraveling the Geomechanics of SHR Resources


To harness the vast energy trapped within superhot rock formations, a comprehensive understanding of geomechanics is essential. In the context of SHR resources, geomechanics plays a pivotal role in several critical domains as listed below:


Mechanical Response of SHR


Understanding the mechanical properties of SHR is fundamental to assess the feasibility of energy extraction. It is important to comprehend how these rocks respond to stress, temperature changes, and pressure to ensure the safe and efficient operation of geothermal plants. The field of rock mechanics in the context of SHR is a captivating subject that, while intriguing, remains relatively underdeveloped within the broader scope of geomechanics.



Figure 3. Change in mechanical response of rocks with temperature and stress as depth varies (Suzuki et al., 2014)


Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing Challenges


Extracting energy from SHR resources requires specialized drilling techniques and hydraulic fracturing operations. Due to the extreme conditions found in these rocks, conventional drilling methods might prove inadequate. Researchers are actively investigating innovative drilling technologies that can withstand the harsh environment and efficiently access the energy reservoirs.


Figure 4. Influence of temperature on hydraulic fractruing in granite (Watanabe et al., 2017)


Induced Seismicity Risks


The stimulation and exploitation of SHR resources can trigger seismic events, which pose significant challenges and potential risks. Understanding the mechanisms behind induced seismicity and developing effective mitigation strategies are essential steps in ensuring the safety and sustainability of geothermal energy projects.


Figure 5. Mechanism of fault instability in SHR systems (Parisio et al., 2019)


This post marked the beginning of an interesting series that will explore the exciting prospects of SHR resources, the hurdles faced in extracting their energy, and the crucial role of geomechanics in this groundbreaking endeavor.


Get ready for the next article as we delve deeper into the geomechanical aspects of SHR! Stay tuned for an interesting exploration that will discuss the intricacies and complexities of these intriguing subjects.


To be continued...


References


  1. Hill, L. B. (2021, October). Superhot Rock Geothermal: A Vision for Zero-Carbon Energy "Everywhere". Published by CATF (Clean Air Task Force).

  2. Parisio, F., Vilarrasa, V., Wang, W., Kolditz, O., & Nagel, T. (2019). The risks of long-term re-injection in supercritical geothermal systems. Nature Communications, 10, 4391. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-12124-6.

  3. Suzuki, Y., Ioka, S., & Muraoka, H. (2014). Determining the Maximum Depth of Hydrothermal Circulation Using Geothermal Mapping and Seismicity to Delineate the Depth to Brittle-Plastic Transition in Northern Honshu, Japan. Energies, 7, 3503-3511. doi:10.3390/en7053503.

  4. Watanabe, N., Sakaguchi, K., Goto, R., Miura, T., Yamane, K., Ishibashi, T., Chen, Y., Komai, T., & Tsuchiya, N. (2018). Cloud-fracture Networks as a Means of Accessing Superhot Geothermal Energy. Scientific Reports, 9, 939.


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