R&D Projects

Geomechanical Modeling and a Reservoir Modeler for Geysers Geothermal Field

The main objective of the project is to characterize reservoir fluid pathways and better understand how the fluid propagates in channelized, well defined pathways. Coupling fluid flow and geomechanics enables us to develop the spatial distributions of the porosity, permeability, stress, and strain along with temperature distribution in the northwest part of the Geysers. The spatial permeability map of the field enables us to determine the impact of water injection in the fracture system, and use the information to better exploit the geothermal reservoir in the northwest part of the field.

We will accomplish these goals by conducting the above mentioned two tasks. Additional technical details of these two tasks are provided below:

Task 1-Geomechanical modeling (fluid flow through a changing fracture network)
This task will focus on developing new methods to relate fracture creation to changes in fluid pressure and temperature. This will be accomplished by coupling the flow equations to the deformation equation (assuming, for example, an elastic model for the deformation). We will also investigate an alternative simpler alternative by deforming the sample for a (short) time and then simulate flow in deformed medium, then resume the deformation, simulate fluid flow again. These two alternatives will be considered and we will reach conclusions on their effectiveness as well as cost consideration.

Task 2- Reservoir modeler 
We will develop the underlining geological model of the reservoir, and address the related issues on up-scaling it for reservoir simulations, and numerical simulation of multiphase flow in the reservoir.

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Characterizing Fractures in Geysers Geothermal Field by Micro-seismic Data, Using Soft Computing, Fractals, and Shear Wave Anisotropy

This is a joint technology application collaborative project between the University of Southern California (USC), Geysers Power Company, “Calpine”, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), to develop improved methods for better characterization of fractures in an enhanced geothermal system (EGS). The ultimate objective of the project is to develop new methodologies to characterize the northwestern part of the Geysers geothermal reservoir (Sonoma County, California), gaining better knowledge of their porosity, permeability, fracture size, fracture spacing, reservoir discontinuities (leaky barriers) and impermeable boundaries. This will be accomplished by creating a 3-D seismic velocity model of the field using the micro-seismic data, collected under another DOE-funded project.  We will exploit the anisotropic and fractal nature of the rocks in order to better understand the fracturing system. We will use soft computing to process and analyze the passive seismic data.

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U.S. – Indonesian Geothermal Education Capacity Building

The Goal of this project is to build capacity for the geothermal educational program at ITB which will provide for expanding the number of graduates who focus on geothermal energy development and broaden the exposure of students and faculty to the global geothermal power business.  The project is also intended to provide opportunities for USC to further develop and expand its geothermal education programs through a partnership in one of the most resource rich geothermal areas of the world.

The involvement and support of Star Energy will provide direct industry input into education initiatives and is intended to lead to greater involvement and coordination between academia and industry in the Indonesian geothermal business.  The key element of this collaborative  efforts is to build on the experience base of both ITB and USC on geothermal related education and R&D. In addition, we expect to benefit from operational experience of Star Energy to make such educational activities more relevant to the real life challenges and requirements of geothermal operators.

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