A suite of benchmark and challenge problems for enhanced geothermal systems

  • Mark White
  • Pengcheng Fu
  • Mark McClure
  • George Danko
  • Derek Elsworth
  • Eric Sonnenthal
  • Sharad Kelkar
  • Robert Podgorney
Original Article
  • 99 Downloads

Abstract

A diverse suite of numerical simulators is currently being applied to predict or understand the performance of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS). To build confidence and identify critical development needs for these analytical tools, the United States Department of Energy, Geothermal Technologies Office sponsored a Code Comparison Study (GTO-CCS), with participants from universities, industry, and national laboratories. A principal objective for the study was to create a community forum for improvement and verification of numerical simulators for EGS modeling. Teams participating in the study were those representing U.S. national laboratories, universities, and industries, and each team brought unique numerical simulation capabilities to bear on the problems. Two classes of problems were developed during the study, benchmark problems and challenge problems. The benchmark problems were structured to test the ability of the collection of numerical simulators to solve various combinations of coupled thermal, hydrologic, geomechanical, and geochemical processes. This class of problems was strictly defined in terms of properties, driving forces, initial conditions, and boundary conditions. The challenge problems were based on the enhanced geothermal systems research conducted at Fenton Hill, near Los Alamos, New Mexico, between 1974 and 1995. The problems involved two phases of research, stimulation, development, and circulation in two separate reservoirs. The challenge problems had specific questions to be answered via numerical simulation in three topical areas: (1) reservoir creation/stimulation, (2) reactive and passive transport, and (3) thermal recovery. Whereas the benchmark class of problems were designed to test capabilities for modeling coupled processes under strictly specified conditions, the stated objective for the challenge class of problems was to demonstrate what new understanding of the Fenton Hill experiments could be realized via the application of modern numerical simulation tools by recognized expert practitioners. We present the suite of benchmark and challenge problems developed for the GTO-CCS, providing problem descriptions and sample solutions.

Keywords

Enhanced geothermal systems Numerical simulation Code comparison Coupled process modeling 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This material was based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Office of Technology Development, Geothermal Technologies Program, under Award Numbers DE-AC52-07NA27344 with LLNL, and under Award Number DE-AC05-76RL01830 with PNNL. The authors wish to acknowledge the pioneering scientists and engineers at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, whose tenacity and technical expertise contributed to the success of the Fenton Hill experiments, conducted over a 23-year period. We are especially grateful to Donald W. Brown, David V. Duchane, Grant Heiken, and Vivi Thomas Hriscu, for capturing these activities at Fenton Hill in great detail in their book “Mining the Earth’s Heat: Hot Dry Rock Geothermal Energy.” We would also personally like to thank Donald W. Brown for participating in this study’s teleconferences and for engaging with the participants on technical issues.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Derek Elsworth is an editor-in-chief for the Geomechanics and Geophysics for Geo-Energy and Geo-Resources journal, otherwise on behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geosciences GroupPacific Northwest National LaboratoryRichlandUSA
  2. 2.Computational GeosciencesLawrence Livermore National LaboratoryLivermoreUSA
  3. 3.McClure GeomechanicsPalo AltoUSA
  4. 4.Mining and Metallurgical EngineeringUniversity of Nevada, RenoRenoUSA
  5. 5.Energy and Mineral EngineeringPennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA
  6. 6.Earth and Environmental SciencesLawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeleyUSA
  7. 7.HydroGeoLogic Inc.Las VegasUSA
  8. 8.Energy Systems and Technologies DivisionIdaho National LaboratoryIdaho FallsUSA

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