SURF Geothermal

South Dakota
Sanford Underground Research Facility

RESPEC is supporting EGS research at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. Researchers are using the rock in the 4100 Level to test control, monitor, model, and characterize induced fractures for fluid flow and geothermal energy extraction in deeper high temperature rocks. RESPEC is also supporting the monitoring and testing of the hydraulic fracturing. EGS has the potential to be the future of geothermal energy, which makes it possible to produce geothermal power and heat anywhere in world.

From SURF’s Geothermal Collab Project Page:
“The drift you’re imagining is a research testbed on the 4100 Level of Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) and home base for the Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) Collab, a research group interested in extracting renewable energy from Earth’s deep, hot rocks. ‘Geothermal energy extraction requires three things: hot rock, permeable pathways through the rock and fluid to extract the heat,’ said Tim Kneafsey, a staff earth scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) who leads the EGS Collab research group. ‘Hot rock is an abundant resource in the U.S., but it is often missing open pathways that allow you to extract the heat.’ Because pathways are often the limiting factor in geothermal systems, EGS Collab is investigating ways to maximize the usefulness of natural fractures that exist in rock formations. While rock on the 4100 Level isn’t hot, it gives the EGS Collab a place to test a method called “hydraulic shearing” to open, or stimulate, a matrix of preexisting natural fractures in their testbed. ‘By opening them and causing them to shift slightly, the roughness of the fractures keeps them propped open,’ Kneafsey said. ‘This self-propping allows water to flow through and–in hot rock environments–transfer heat.’”