Improved Silica Removal for Enhanced Geothermal Plant Performance
This new technology represents the first major improvement in managing silica in geothermal plants in over 40 years.
The team has completed initial design of GMEPS technology for use with geothermal brine and has begin lab testing and design optimization.
This project will develop and demonstrate a fundamentally new and innovative method for managing silica in geothermal operations. The new technology, Geothermal Micropillar Enabled Particle Separator (GMEPS) separates solid particles based on their size as they flow through a series of carefully positioned staggered/offset posts. The particles bouncing off the ordered array of posts are systematically moved to one side of the separator. As a result, the bulk of the flow is cleared of particles and a concentrated slurry containing the particles is separated from the stream. There is no need for addition of corrosion inhibitors or flocculants, and the separation system does not require cycling or the allowance for large settling volumes. Instead, the separation is accomplished dynamically under a wide range of flow conditions. Larger particles separate faster than smaller particles, enabling size separation and purification for value added products. Novel designs and manufacturing methods allow these GMEPS separators to be made cost effectively, at industrial scale, and in a form-factor that allows deployment within existing geothermal piping.
GMEPS has the potential to reduce both capital and operating costs by reducing the amount of equipment needed and eliminating the need for acid addition. It also has the potential to be constructed from less expensive materials compared to conventional methods.
Expanding geothermal operations and developing lithium production in California could produce over $10 billion of new revenue and 3,000 new jobs.
There is sufficient geothermal energy resource in California for at least an additional 2,000 MW. This would help to reduce CO2 emissions by 10 million tons per year compared to gas power generation. The project will eliminate the traditional silica filter cake that is disposed in landfills and create a high-value silica product.
As the state of California continues to progress towards 100% renewable energy, reliability and spinning reserves are going to become increasingly important. Geothermal energy provides valuable inertia and capacity required by grid operators.
Key Project Members
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
San Diego State University
Performance Mechanical Corporation
Craig's Crane & Services Inc.
EFR Environmental Services, Inc.
C&J Well Services
Hell's Kitchen Geothermal LLC