17 May 2011:
New Geothermal System Taps
Heat Without Geological Risks, Firm Says
A U.S. startup says it has developed an enhanced geothermal energy system (EGS) that engineers say can tap into heat from the Earth’s interior without any associated risks of triggering earthquakes or polluting underground aquifers
. While typical EGS processes require developers to pump liquids into deep wells at high pressure, a process that has on occasion trigged small earthquakes, GTHerm
has developed an approach that doesn’t require fracturing or water cooling. Instead, the process includes installation of a solid-state heat exchanger, or “heat nest,” at the bottom of the well that can more efficiently draw heat from surrounding rock with the help of a highly conductive grout encasing the heat exchanger. Fluid is sent down the well in a closed loop that carries the heat back to the surface, where it creates steam that drives electricity-generating turbines. “We’re basically a heat pump on steroids,” said Michael Parrella, CEO and founder of the Connecticut-based company. The company, which is now testing the commercial feasibility of the technology, hopes to have demonstration plants in place as early as 2012.
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Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s coral reefs, which are largely intact thanks to stifled coastal development in the communist nation. View the gallery.
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The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
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A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.