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Department of Energy Awards up to $38 Million to Advance Technology and Reduce Cost of Geothermal Energy

September 8, 2011

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced $38 million over three years for projects to accelerate the development of promising geothermal energy technologies and help diversify America's sources of clean, renewable energy. Thirty-two innovative projects in 14 states will develop and test new ways to locate geothermal resources and improve resource characterization, drilling, and reservoir engineering techniques, which will enable geothermal energy sources to help reduce the nation's reliance on fossil fuels. Funded through DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, these advances will play an important role in achieving President Obama's goal of generating 80% of U.S. electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.

"The Department of Energy is investing in pioneering new technologies that will further develop the nation's geothermal resources, create skilled jobs for American workers, and help diversify our energy portfolio," said Secretary Chu. "The projects announced today will provide opportunities for clean energy innovations that will ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in geothermal energy development and expand the nation's use of this important renewable energy resource."

This significant investment in clean energy development is part of the Department's comprehensive effort to reduce the cost of geothermal energy, making it more competitive with conventional sources of baseload electricity. Projects will perform feasibility studies before advancing to prototyping and validation, which will be conducted through vigorous laboratory-based research and field testing. The selected projects will support the Department's goals of lowering the cost and financial risk associated with confirming and characterizing geothermal resources and will help to overcome key technical challenges to the reservoir creation and sustainability of enhanced geothermal systems.

Selected awardees are as follows:

Hattenburg Dilley & Linnell, LLC (Anchorage, Alaska) : up to $330,000
This project will evaluate the chemical, thermal and permeability characteristics of a geothermal reservoir using chemical signatures that are trapped inside minerals to increase exploration drilling success rates.

Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, California): up to $540,000
This project will predict changes in fluid flow through fractures and improve current methods of estimating geothermal reservoir temperatures to enable subsurface imaging and reduce exploration costs.

Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (Livermore, California): up to $890,000
This project will reduce resource exploration costs by developing a processing technique for a variety of geophysical and geological parameters.

Paulsson, Inc. (Woodland Hills, California): up to $3.0 million
This project will advance the collection of seismic data from stimulation zones to accurately characterize enhanced geothermal system reservoirs.

Potter Drilling, Inc. (Redwood City, California): up to $1.5 million
This project will adapt hydrothermal spallation drilling technology to increase the effective diameter of wells and increase their production capacity.

Stanford University (Stanford, California): up to $680,000
This project will develop geophysical approaches to detect and evaluate fractures to better characterize geothermal reservoirs and optimize their performance.

Colorado School of Mines (Golden, Colorado): up to $1.1 million
This project will link reservoir temperature estimates with mineral analysis to aid discovery of unknown geothermal resources.

Colorado School of Mines (Golden, Colorado): up to $630,000
This project will develop an advanced processing framework for survey data to reduce the cost of geothermal exploration.

University of Hawaii (Honolulu, Hawaii): up to $980,000
This project will develop a new geophysical inversion and analysis procedure to map the subsurface structure of a geothermal prospect and lower exploration costs.

Idaho National Laboratory (Idaho Falls, Idaho): up to $1.0 million
This project will seek to achieve increased accuracy in predicting reservoir temperatures in order to lower exploration costs.

FastCAP Systems Corporation (Boston, Massachusetts): up to $2.2 million
This project will enable controlled pressure and directional drilling in high-temperature geothermal exploration wells to facilitate more economical identification of geothermal resources.

Applied Technology Associates (Albuquerque, New Mexico): up to $1.5 million
This project will use an innovative sensor to facilitate simultaneous measurement of multiple wave velocities and directions to improve reservoir observation and monitoring.

Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos, New Mexico): up to $1.0 million
This project will allow for more accurate imaging of seismic data through the development of an advanced processing technique.

Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos, New Mexico): up to $1.6 million
This project will reduce the cost of geothermal energy by developing an innovative method that combines high pressure impulses and thermal gradients to drill through hard rock.

Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, New Mexico): up to $400,000
This project will develop an environmentally-friendly material that will temporarily isolate sections of the wellbore to control zones of injection and production at high temperatures and pressures, lowering completion costs.

Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, New Mexico): up to $340,000
This project will assess the feasibility of using state-of-the-art sensors and components to accurately determine the direction and orientation of a geothermal well in real-time in order to lower drilling costs.

University of Nevada (Reno, Nevada): up to $380,000
This project will use an advanced method to identify faults and characterize reservoirs resulting in lower exploration costs.

Brookhaven National Laboratory (Upton, New York): up to $300,000
This project will develop a multi-functional cement to protect geothermal wellbores against common geothermal failure risks such as thermal cycling, thermal expansion, and corrosion.

Brookhaven National Laboratory (Upton, New York): up to $300,000
This project will optimize a temporary sealer compound to address fluid loss encountered while drilling.

Clean Tech Innovations, LLC (Bartlesville, Oklahoma): up to $500,000
This project will modify a gel that can tolerate the high temperatures and high pressures encountered in geothermal wells to provide isolation of lost circulation zones and reduce drilling costs.

Impact Technologies (Tulsa, Oklahoma): up to $1.0 million
This project will examine the feasibility of employing intense radiation technology to drill and seal off the walls of geothermal wells in order to reduce drilling costs.

National Energy Technology Laboratory (Albany, Oregon): up to $770,000
This project will enable efficient reservoir creation by monitoring enhanced geothermal system reservoirs before and after stimulation using recently developed advanced geophysical techniques combined with geologic and geochemical analyses.

Atlas Copco Secoroc LLC (Ft. Loudon, Pennsylvania): up to $3.4 million
This project will enable drilling at the high temperatures encountered in deep geothermal wells.

National Energy Technology Laboratory (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania): up to $1.0 million
This project will reduce the cost of reservoir development using an integrated experimental and modeling program to anticipate geochemical reactions in enhanced geothermal system processes.

Temple University (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania): up to $1.5 million
This project will employ new techniques to better interpret the shape, volume and evolution of a stimulated reservoir and optimize its performance.

Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations, Inc. (Houston, Texas): up to $5.0 million
This project will develop downhole systems for continuous real-time data logging of high temperature wells to allow for more efficient drilling and reduced well costs.

Bell Geospace, Inc. (Houston, Texas): up to $1.0 million
This project will test two airborne geophysical survey technologies with the potential to lower geothermal exploration costs.

Geothermal Expandables, LLC (Houston, Texas): up to $1.5 million
This project will improve upon existing casing designs by increasing the effective diameter of production wells allowing for additional fluid flow and power production.

University of Texas (Austin, Texas): up to $990,000
This project will develop seismic data processing technologies to locate fractures in a more cost effective manner and lower exploration costs.

University of Texas (Austin, Texas): up to $700,000
This project will develop and test an innovative integrated exploration method to increase exploration drilling success rates.

University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah): up to $990,000
This project will combine several geophysical techniques into an integrative method for identifying blind, high temperature geothermal resources, thereby lowering exploration costs.

University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah): up to $1.0 million
This project will improve the prediction of permeability and temperature at depth and lower exploration costs.

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. Learn more about DOE's effort to establish geothermal energy as an economically competitive contributor to the U.S. energy supply.

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Content Last Updated: 02/03/2006