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Published by virendranits
Geothermal energy
Clean Energy from the Earth for the 21st Century

Geothermal energy
Clean Energy from the Earth for the 21st Century

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Published by: virendranits on Sep 27, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Geothermal energyClean Energy from the Earth for the 21st Century
Virendra KumarM.Tech thermal engg. Deptt. mechanical engg.National Institute of Technology, Silchar, Assam. 788010. India
he word “geothermal” comes from the Greek words geo (earth) and thermal (heat). Itmeans the heat of earth. The energy potential beneath our feet, in the form of geothermalenergy, is vast. This tremendous resource amounts to 50,000 times the energy of all oiland gas resources in the world. Geothermal energy has attracted worldwide attention asan alternate source of energy for the last few decades. Presently this non-conventionalenergy constitutes about 1% of the total global electricity output but the scenario ischanging very fast due to its eco-friendly pollution free and renewable nature. About one-third of the total available energy is spent on space heating, bathing, fish and green housefarming and industrial uses. The USA, Iceland, China and New Zealand make maximumuse of geothermal energy for electricity generation or as heat energy.
 Together, geothermal power plants and direct-use technologies are awinning combination for meeting our country's energy needs whileprotecting the environment. Whether geothermal energy is used forproducing electricity or providing heat, it's a clean alternative for thenation. And geothermal resources are domestic resources. Keeping thewealth at home translates to more jobs and our national economic andemployment picture improve.
Key words:
tremendous resource,
alternate source, eco-friendly,renewable nature
1. Geothermal Energy Explained
The Hot Facts
he Earth's crust is a bountiful source of energy. Nearly everyone isfamiliar with the Earth’s fossil fuels oil, gas, and coal but fossil fuels areonly part of the story. Heat, also called thermal energy, is by far themore abundant resource. The Earth's core, 4000 miles (6437kilometers) below the surface, can reach temperatures of more than9000°F (498C). The heat geothermal energy constantly flowsoutward from the core, heating the surrounding area. Nearby rockmelts at high temperatures and pressure, transforming into magma.Magma can some times well up to the surface as lava, but most of thetime it remains below the Earth's crust heating nearby rock. Waterseeps into the Earth and collects in fractured or porous hot rock,forming reservoirs of steam and hot water. If those reservoirs aretapped for their fluids, they can provide heat for many uses, includingelectricity production.
2. Geothermal Drilling
Faster and Cheaper is Better
Before the Earth’s heat can be used for purposes such as generatingelectricity or heating buildings, conduits between the geothermalreservoir of hot water or steam and the Earth’s surface must beprovided. This is done by drilling production and injection wells, whichare often thousands of feet deep, into the reservoir. Drilling of exploratory wells also helps collect data to define the size andproductivity of the geothermal reservoir.Construction of wells is clearlyessential, but it is also expensive, accounting for 15 to 30 percent of the total cost of a geothermal power project.
2.1. Geothermal Drilling
 To drill almost any well, a drill bit is mounted on the end of a longmetal pipe called the drill string, which is rotated from the surface bymachinery called a drill rig. New 30-foot lengths of pipe are added to
the top of the drill string as the bore hole gets deeper. To cool andlubricate the drill bit and to carry away the chips of rock cut by it, aviscous fluid called drilling mud is pumped down the drill string. Themud passes through holes in the drill bit and then flows back up thehole in the space between the bore hole wall and the drill string.
2.2. Drill Bits
Drilling costs are greatly affected by how quickly the drill bit
can penetrate the hard,abrasive, fractured rocks of a geothermal
location, and by how long it can last before thedrill string needs to be taken out of the hole to replace the bit. If both
penetrationrate and bit life were doubled, drilling costs would drop an average of 15 percent.
Two kinds of bits are used
Roller-cone bits
Polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) bitsFor virtually all drilling in either geothermal or oil and gas wells roller-cone bits and polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) bits. Roller cone bits have toothed cones thatroll on the bottom of the hole as the bit rotates, each tooth crushing the small area of rock  beneath it.The PDC bit uses thin layers of synthetic diamond bonded to tungsten carbide-cobaltstuds or blades. The diamond layer gives the cutter extreme resistance to abrasive wear inthe shearing action of cutting. PDC bits are especially well suited to drilling through hotrock because they have no moving parts, so high-temperature seals, bearings, andlubricants are not an issue. They have gained this tremendous market acceptance becausethey have consistently drilled faster and lasted longer than roller cone bits. Fogeothermal drilling, however, PDC bits do not work reliably well in rock that is morethan moderately hard. These efforts will lead to enhance performance, extending fullapplication of PDC bits, with its attendant cost savings, to the hot, hard rocks of geothermal reservoirs.

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