It is known that the temperature of the earth's crust increases downward at a rate of about (10 C) for every 30 meters. A limitless supply of steam may be obtained with only a loose requirement of proper well depth. This technology is commercially available today. The calculated useful heat content of HDR (Hot Dry Rock) under the United States has been estimated to be about 10 million quads (1 quad = 1.0X1018 joules). In energy content, this is equivalent to about 1,700 trillion barrels of oil, or approximately 60,000 times the energy in the proven US reserves of crude oil. That represents about 35 million trillion cubic feet of hydrogen. On a weight basis, that comes out to 207,000 trillion pounds of hydrogen. Other sources of geothermal heat include geo-pressured reservoirs. Geo-pressured reservoirs such as those found along the northern shore of the Gulf of Mexico in the region from Brownsville, Texas, to New Orleans, Louisiana contain hot water at temperature from 150 C to 180 C under extremely high pressures (270 to 400 bars). The hot water under pressure from the geo-pressured zones can be used to produce hydrogen because of the hydraulic energy of the high pressure water and also the geothermal heat of the water. The figure below illustrates the various geothermal resources in the United States.
An integration of geothermal steam and electricity generation can be used to produce hydrogen and oxygen from the waste steam of the turbine, representing both resource mining and refining at the same location. This concept is called "hydrofining", and the integration of the geothermal well/electricity generation/waste steam cracking to hydrogen and oxygen, a "hydrofinery".
The Generation of Fuels, Electrical Power and Chemicals from Geothermal Resources
Genesys, LLC has developed proprietary technology called eRET™ (Electrical Radiant Energy Transfer) that enables additional electrical energy generation and new revenue potential from geothermal production well waste streams at highly cost-competitive levels compared with existing technologies. Our proposition is to integrate this proprietary system into the existing geothermal generation process, subsequent to all current commercial processes.
Our core technology uses new proprietary processes to produce high-output electrical power, hydrogen and chemicals simultaneously by using the eRET in conjunction with conventional solar panels as an energy source, at lower operating costs and higher efficiencies than any existing technology.
An integration of geothermal well emissions with the additional electricity generation from our system can be used to produce hydrogen and oxygen from the water vapour content of the turbine waste stream. Implementing both resource mining and refining at the same location is a concept known as "hydrofining". The integration of the geothermal well/electricity generation/waste stream cracking to hydrogen and oxygen would create a "hydrofinery". Carbon dioxide off gas from the well can be used as a source of carbon for the production of chemicals such as methanol or methane.
Economics for hydrogen generation utilizing eRET technology compare very favourably with conventional hydrogen production technologies such as steam methane reforming (SMR) or electrolysis – both of which are extremely energy intensive and inefficient. Our process uses a by-product of the proprietary electrical generation process - electromagnetic radiation - tuned to the resonant frequency of water vapour to break the OH bond with very minimal energy.
The new process would bypass existing systems such as the condenser, non-condensable gas removal and cooling towers, reducing operational maintenance requirements and costs for existing facilities, or substantially lowering capital cost requirements for new wells.
Due to the high flow rates of the steam (and also CO2 ~1%wt flows) it is possible to make economic amounts of CH4 and methanol. The commercial process for making methanol from carbon dioxide and hydrogen is:
CO2 + 3H2 = CH3OH + H2O
By way of indicative example, if a steam from a geothermal well is about 300 metric tons/ hour or 300,000 kg/hr, with 1% by weight of CO2 in the stream, we can , in one hour, about 52.3 metric tons per day of methanol, which amounts to about 19,112 metric tons per year.
Producing methane is a simpler process with very high yields (>90%). That commercial process is called the Sabatier process for synthetic methane and was invented and commercialized around the turn of the last century. It is represented chemically as:
CO2 + 4H2 = CH4 + 2H2O
Using specific figures for a typical New Zealand central North Island geothermal well could provide about 0.5 tons of methane per hour or 4,380 tons of methane per well per year. Also, any liquid portion arising from the condensing steam turbines at 35C can also be flash evaporated to provide additional water vapour for the methanation reaction.
If other sources of waste CO2 were incorporated (avoided emissions from nearby geothermal facilities, industrial sources, forestry/timber milling residues, etc.) methane production could increase accordingly.
Since this could be considered as a free feedstock, the geothermal sector could actually compete with natural gas (fossil fuel) and biomass biogas on costs.
Our system is entirely independent, being powered solely by the eRET. Existing geothermal power generation would not be diminished in any way. On the contrary, additional electricity could be produced by incorporating more eRET modules to increase overall output supply to the grid, increasing revenues accordingly.