How is the reservoir technique

21.01.2009 11:50

NRW sets up a large research center for geothermal energy in Bochum

Detlef Bremkens Dec. 3 KIT Communication, Innovation, Transfer
Bochum University of Applied Sciences

With a project sum of EUR 11 million, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia will set up a research center for the extraction of geothermal energy on the campus of the Bochum University of Applied Sciences (formerly Bochum University of Applied Sciences) over the next two years via the Ministry of Economics, Medium-sized Enterprises and Energy .

On January 21, 2009, Minister of Economic Affairs Christa Thoben handed over the grant notification to the President of Bochum University, Prof. Martin Sternberg, and the head of the Geothermal Center NRW (GZB) in Bochum, Prof. Rolf Bracke. "This is by far the largest investment in a geothermal research institute in Germany and underlines the quality and the growing importance of application research at universities of applied sciences," says Prof. Sternberg happily.

The extraction of energy from the earth has a long tradition in North Rhine-Westphalia. The mining-related technologies and know-how required for this are so concentrated in only a few regions worldwide. One of the reasons why, after a 4-year selection process, the decision to build the large research center in Bochum was made. Now the state of North Rhine-Westphalia wants to further expand its leading position in geotechnologies. "The technologies required for this are to be further developed, tested and prepared for use in the GeoTechnikum with immediate effect," said Economics Minister Christa Thoben today on the occasion of her visit to the Bochum University of Applied Sciences.

Prof. Bracke explains that the focus of development is on the fields
- the innovative drilling technology,
- the reservoir technology and
- the geophysical measurement technology
to develop geothermal energy at depths of up to 5000 m.
In addition, they want to work in the area of ​​near-surface to medium-depth geothermal energy with the integration of
- heat pump technologies
employ in large municipal infrastructures.
The infrastructure to be set up for the research center includes an institute with geoscientific laboratories, a large test hall with workshops, drilling technology and a test field as an in-situ field laboratory for tests under production-related conditions.

The central equipment element is a special coiled tubing drilling rig for deep boreholes up to 5,000 m. The technology comes from the natural gas and oil production in the USA. It is characterized by the fact that the drill string is continuously rolled up on a roller and is no longer screwed together rod by rod. The drilling process is therefore much more flexible and faster than conventional drilling technology. On this basis, the Bochum researchers want to develop innovative drilling methods and make them usable for geothermal energy extraction from great depths. The development of new drilling methods for exploration, i.e. for the preliminary exploration of deposits, is seen as a key technology for geothermal energy and other geological energy resources. The aim is to close the large gap between preliminary tests on a laboratory scale and expensive large-caliber production wells.
The coiled tubing drilling technology is supplemented by reservoir technology for opening up the mountains in the deeper subsurface. Artificial paths for hot water are created at great depth on the test field of the GeoTechnikum. This is done with the help of the new drilling technology and high-pressure injection of water into the rock, which breaks it up and creates a natural heat exchanger. The Bochum researchers want to gain knowledge about the hydraulic accessibility of geologically complex rock formations and then transfer this to other locations around the world. The geologically strongly folded and disturbed layers of the Ruhr Carboniferous offer ideal conditions for this.

State-of-the-art geophysical measuring probes are used in the petroleum / natural gas industry for the detailed investigation of underground mountain structures. So far, however, these can only be used up to 150 ° C. For this reason, high-temperature and pressure-resistant measuring probes with a resistance of over 200 ° C are to be developed in Bochum especially for the use of geothermal energy. This means that in future it will no longer be "dark in front of the hoe" for geothermal energy in the miners' sense.
The Bochum technology can be used in container systems at any location on earth.

The deep drilling technology is supplemented by drilling technology for medium-deep boreholes, such as those used in combination with heat pumps. This is also intended to support the dynamic growth market of heat pump-supported geothermal systems from Bochum with targeted new and further developments. For this purpose, a heat pump test bench and an area for the development and testing of new geothermal probes and open-mountain geothermal systems will be set up.

In the presence of many business representatives, the head of the Geothermal Center NRW emphasizes that the new GeoTechnikum is designed as a joint research facility for science and business. It is operated by the Bochum University of Applied Sciences. Cooperation partners in North Rhine-Westphalia are RWTH Aachen University, the Gelsenkirchen University of Applied Sciences and the Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences. It is also available to other universities, research institutions and companies from Germany and abroad. The aim of networking with business is the faster transfer of scientific knowledge and developments into marketable products. This "Bochum model", the link between now 4 universities in North Rhine-Westphalia, technical colleges and over 20 commercial enterprises in a joint research center on the campus of the Bochum University of Applied Sciences has proven to be particularly successful. With the new infrastructure, the center is unique in Europe on this scale.

Around the Bochum location, NRW has developed into what is probably the most important technology and know-how region in the growing geothermal energy market. In the Ruhr Metropolis alone, 4,000-5,000 people are already working in the industry. When it comes to heat pump-based systems, the country is the market leader in terms of both production and applications. When it comes to deep geothermal energy to generate electricity, the region does not have first-class natural resources. However, almost all large deep geothermal projects in Germany are implemented with North Rhine-Westphalian technology and know-how. From a technology and labor market policy point of view, this aspect is much more important than local individual projects for the business location NRW. The new large research center is intended to further strengthen this position.

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