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Development of a Design Tool for Hot-Dry-Rock Fracture Systems
P. Siebert1, N. Weber2, R. Schütt3, M. Feinendegen1, K. Willbrand3, M. Ziegler1, T.P. Fries2,
C. Clauser3
1Geotechnical Engineering, RWTH Aachen University, Germany,
2Institute for Computational Analysis of Technical Systems, RWTH Aachen University, Germany,
3Institute of Applied Geophysics and Geothermal Energy, RWTH Aachen University, Germany
The Hot-Dry-Rock (HDR) technology has great potential for large-scale conversion of geothermal energy
into electric energy. Pressurized water is used to fracture hot rock at depth of about 3-5 km in order to
create an engineered underground heat exchanger. For producing geothermal heat, cold water is
injected down to the fractured hot rock and heated up while passing through. Brought back to the
surface it is used to drive a steam power plant.
Yet the engineering of this heat exchanger needs to be developed to the point where the outcome can
be predicted within specified uncertainty, and the technology remains to be proven viable on a
commercial scale. Technological and financial risk evaluation is needed. In the current project we aim to
(1) improve the understanding of the process of fracture formation and (2) develop a numerical lay-out
tool for the design of the underground heat exchanger which is verified against results from large-scale
laboratory experiments. On a long-term perspective, the software tool will help to quantify and reduce
the risks of insufficient flow rates and induced seismicity and help to optimize production performance.