EGS future

Dr Blagonravov, who was involved in the launch of  83.5 kg of “Sputnik” described it a the “ simplest kind of baby moon”. Sputnik is the first man-made object launched in 1957 into space to circle the Earth at about 900 km above the Earth.  No one though that it is possible ever to send such a huge mass of object to space and make it to circle around the Earth!!  In 1950s skeptics thought it was impossible to send a satellite to space.  With advancement made in space technology, to day civilian space shuttle is a reality.  So is the case of space station. Those skeptics disintegrated into history!  Science and technology has advanced so much such that those that were impossible yesterday are possible today. This is true in all fields of science and technology……….whether be it in space, ocean, earth sciences etc.  A couple of decade ago no one ever dreamt that man could walk on the Moon or space. Now such feat is a cake walk for mankind!  On earth, extracting more oil from deep oil reservoirs was thought impossible. But now with hydrofracturing technology in place, recovery of oil from the reservoir has increased tremendously. Horizontal fracturing with high compressive fluids with proppants keeps the fractures open for easy flow of oil and gas in the reservoirs.  Quartz sand was used earlier which is being replaced by a variety of materials like aluminum beads, ceramic beads and sintered bauxite etc. The technology is perfected not to induce fractures in the cap rocks that form impermeable layers above ( and below) the oil bearing horizon. Once the stress pattern of the reservoir rocks is known, controlling the fracture magnitude and direction is easy.

The same technology is now applied to create net work of fractures in granites that contain high concentration of  radioactive elements like Th, U and K.  With the experience gained from the Fenton Hill experimental bore well and Soultz hot dry rock project, we are in a position to fine tune the technology of increasing the permeability of granites at depths greater than 3  km. There are excellent sites where high heat generating granites occur at shallower depths covered with thick insulating formations.  Instead of embarking on mega EGS projects, small projects capable of generating 10 to 20 MWe will  fine tune the technology and prepare this technology ready for implementation in the next couple of decades when dependence on non-conventional energy sources becomes a necessity.   As on today Europe has two such projects, one in Soultz and the other in Landau.  Now technology to use CO2 as heat extracting media from hot granites is under experimental stage.  We are in “Sputnik stage” with respect to EGS and in the next few years small power projects from EGS will be become major energy source mix and offset CO2 as well as BC emissions……. to be continued.