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Yellowstone volcano solution

  1. Aug 23, 2017 #1
    recently I noticed an article about super volcano in Yellowstone and NASA's solution by drill and pumping water in there which will be a medium for energy transfer. I hope I have read good article with good informations. A price estimation was around 3.5 mld dollars. In my country we have build an nulcear power plant around 5 mld dollars so for me this aspect realable. Do you agree?
    My main question is: Would be better to use as medium some kind of metal or alloy as a bar which would transfer thermal energy by thermal conducting?

    Temperature of core is around 5000 C. A melting point of wolfram is around 4000 C so such materials exists. They have to exists, a borer has to resist such temperature. Also you need not to pump the water in there and spare energy. What is your oppinion?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 23, 2017 #2


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    2017 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    Convection is much more efficient than conductivity, and water has a very high heat capacity. You can use the hot water to produce electricity - the system also works as power plant.

    Tungsten has a thermal conductivity of 173 W/(m·K). A 500 m column at 500 K temperature difference between the ends (that is unrealistically high) will conduct 173 W/m2. It has a price of 200 million dollars per square meter. With 3.5 billions you can transfer about 3 kW. A negligible power. A single cubic centimeter of water per second, turned to steam, can do the same.
    You could use other materials than tungsten, of course - iron has a lower thermal conductivity, but it is much cheaper. That gives you a factor ~30 mainly from the lower price. 100 kW is still a negligible power.
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