Geothermal energy

  1. wolram

    wolram 3,770
    Gold Member

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php

    Helium isotopes point to the best sources of geothermal energy
    Unknown to most, the US has enough geothermal energy below its surface to supply three times the amount of energy that the US consumes annually. Up until this point no one has tapped this source because finding the geothermal hot spots is too expensive. Recently researchers discovered that surface indicators can predict if geothermal energy sources are below the ground -- now no more expensive drilling is required.
     
  2. jcsd
    Earth sciences news on Phys.org
  3. wolram

    wolram 3,770
    Gold Member

    I see no one has disputed the above, so what is the problem, why are you not drilling away like crazy?
     
  4. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    I'd like to see the math behind the "3000 times" (not three times) claim. That's an awful lot. Regardless, the article doesn't actually say anything about geothermal's viability in the US. It doesn't sound like they've actually tested the method and it doesn't say how far you have to drill. It's an interesting litte research project, but it isn't something that would cause people to start "drilling away like crazy."
     
  5. jim mcnamara

    jim mcnamara 1,515
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    This is not my discpline, but I see the same stuff in areas I do know - 'why don't we<...>'
    questions based on one paper from one researcher.

    <...> is usually pretty much in this order:
    'cure cancer'
    'stop global warming'
    'create eternal life'
    'cure aids'

    The assumption you should make, which russ made without mentioning it: 'am I so much more informed on this subject than the 500 PhD's in the field who read the study before me'? Most of the time you should assume 'I am not'.

    And in many case these unseen experts are doing one or more of these without our help:

    1. pursuing it like crazy, getting investors, etc.
    2. doing nothing because they know better
    3. waiting for better data, or better more conclusive studies.
    4. doing some research on their own

    Drilling's expensive ya know. And there really is no global conspiracy preventing a geologist from becoming the Bill Gates of Geotherm, Inc. The people at eurekalert.org ought to know better too.
     
  6. Bystander

    Bystander 3,441
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    "It has been estimated that within the continental United States, there is a sizable resource of accessible geothermal energy – about 3,000 times the current annual U.S. consumption." --- Nikki Staab, MEDIA CONTACT, ASU. What's the source of the estimate? Integrate the temperature gradient from earth surface to a depth of 2-3 km and multiply by 4MJ/(m3K) over 107 km2; the qualification regarding quality of the energy (99+% at less than 20 K above ambient, or, useless) is omitted.
     
  7. LURCH

    LURCH 2,514
    Science Advisor

    Does that assume removing all heat from the rocks underneath the entire landmass of the continental U.S.? I'm sure much of the world would applaud such a plan, but I cannot endorse it myself.
     
  8. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    Update:

    Google is funding research in Geothermal Energy
    http://www.google.org/egs/index.html


    Engineered Geothermal Systems (EGS)
    http://www.potterdrilling.com/geothermal-energy/egs/
    Hot Dry Rock Geothermal Energy Technology
    http://www.lanl.gov/source/orgs/ees/ees11/geophysics/other/hdr.shtml


    The Future of Geothermal Energy
    http://www1.eere.energy.gov/geothermal/future_geothermal.html
     
  9. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    So they are now hoping to get in on alternative energy sources eh? They certainly have enough capital.
     
  10. matthyaouw

    matthyaouw 1,216
    Gold Member

    The figure of 3x the USA's energy use is a bit suspect for me. How do they work that out? Is that the total heatflow for the whole continent? It reminds me of the often heard statistic that the earth recieves enough sunlight in x minutes to power the world for a year. True, maybe, but there is no way at all that it will ever be possible to tap all of even most of that energy.
     
  11. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    It's part of Google's initiative on renewable energy.

    http://www.google.org/rec.html

    They have other areas. In fact, they have an engineering and technology team.
     
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