STAT formed for FORGE Initiative

Science and Technology Analysis Team Formed for FORGE Initiative.

As part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) initiative, a diverse group of experts, referred to as the Science and Technology Analysis Team (STAT), has been formed to support the Utah FORGE team. The STAT is comprised of the following members:

  • Doug Blankenship (Chair) – Sandia National Laboratories
  • Joseph Morris (Vice Chair) – Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • Kate Baker – Independent Consultant
  • Stephen Hickman – U.S. Geological Survey
  • Mack Kennedy – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • George King – GEK Engineering PLLC
  • Ernest Majer – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Affiliate
  • Jean-Claude Roegiers – Independent Consultant
  • Eric Sonnenthal – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Herbert Wang – University of Wisconsin, Madison

The STAT provides technical guidance to ensure that the Geothermal Technologies Office’s (GTO) objectives are considered and incorporated into the execution of FORGE and associated research and development (R&D). Specifically, the STAT will assess R&D needs in accordance with GTO roadmaps and goals, establish technical baseline information and performance specifications, review ongoing site characterization and monitoring efforts, develop topics for recurring FORGE R&D solicitations, provide guidance for review and selection of R&D projects, and develop out-year R&D strategies. The STAT will also assess the progress and results of R&D technology and techniques implemented at FORGE and provide input to the Utah FORGE team for the development of annual reports.

In April, the STAT convened for the first time in Salt Lake City. In addition to members of STAT, personnel from DOE and the Utah FORGE team also attended. The meeting served as a powerful reminder of the potential of the FORGE initiative to advance EGS to a place of commercial readiness. Initial public outputs of the meeting will be the release of the first round of FORGE R&D funding opportunity announcements (FOAs), scheduled for later in calendar year 2019.

FORGE will be a dedicated site where the subsurface science and engineering community will be able to develop, test and improve new technologies and techniques directed at the development of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS).

The Geothermal Technologies Office would like to thank the University of Utah team and the STAT members for their hard work and leadership. Their contributions serve as a powerful reminder of the potential of advancing EGS to a place of commercial readiness through this groundbreaking initiative!

At the Governor’s Energy Summit

Among the many speakers and participants at this year's Summit were leaders and proponents of renewable energy sources.  This was the Eight's Annual Governor's Energy Summit and second  for the UtahFORGE team to represent the project which was among the few mentioned in the speeches by the Utah Governor's Energy Advisor Laura Nelson, Utah's Governor Gary Herbert, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and the EERE Assistant Secretary Daniel Simmons.

You can listen to the opening speech by the Utah's Governor Gary Herbert featured in this post by FOX13 news (scroll down to the second video, mention @ 4:25 time).

There is "enormous untapped potential for geothermal energy in the United States" said U.S. Secretary Rick Perry on the heels of the newly released study by the Department of Energy: GeoVision: Harnessing the Heat Beneath Our Feet.



Generating Power:

These small hands-on modules developed by Dr. Anthony Butterfield and Andy Simonson from the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Utah  are some of the tools that help in understanding how energy can be produced, eg. heat transfer.

Phase 2C Activities at the Site

In March, 2019, the two new vertical wells for monitoring were completed. The shallow well (68-32) was drilled to 970 ft depth, penetrating alluvial sands and gravel. The deeper well (78-32) was drilled to about 3300 ft depth, having intersected the contact with granitic basement rock aroun d 2600 ft depth.  Both wells were instrumented with state-of-the-art sensors.  Two borehole seismometers were installed into the bottom of well 68-32, whereas an optoelectronic Distributed Acoustic Sensor (DAS) cable was installed into well 78-32.


During the drilling of 78-32, an aquifer test was performed, which proved production of 46°C water from about 700-900 ft depth at 200 gallons per minute. This warm water represents subsurface outflow from Roosevelt Hot Springs, and it is non-potable due to high TDS, making it ideal for future use at the Utah FORGE project.

In April the stimulation phase was completed with great success. Injection tests were run at three distinct depth intervals in the reservoir granite; the first was in the open-hole section, whereas the other two were at slightly higher level within the cased section of the well.

During these tests, fluid flow and fracture opening were detected by both the Schlumberger geophone string array and the DAS cable in well 78-32. Televiewer logs were run in the open-hole section of 58-32 to assess the injection test effects. All of the data are now being processed.


2019 Geothermal Design Challenge Winners

Winning teams have been announced in the 2019 Geothermal Design Challenge™ Data Visualization contest. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO), in partnership with the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), hosted the student competition that launched in January and concluded in April. The student competition challenged teams to research FORGE data, interpret information and create a data visualization portfolio that recommended a location within the FORGE footprint where an enhanced geothermal reservoir could be created with minimal environmental consequences.

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Partner Spotlight: featuring Professor Ahmad Ghassemi

Professor Ahmad Ghassemi represents the University of Oklahoma as a Utah FORGE partner. He leads the Reservoir Geomechanics and Seismicity Research (RGSR) Group, which investigates reservoir geomechanics in geothermal and petroleum systems. He is part of the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering at the University of Oklahoma (OU), which is rated among the top petroleum engineering programs in the nation, and it has had a large impact in research and development since the late 1980’s. Today, the program is recognized for its world-class experimental and numerical modeling infrastructures, which has important applications for geothermal research and development of EGS-type reservoirs.

Professor Ghassemi’s group focuses on understanding the dynamics of reservoir rocks and fracture networks in response to hydraulic, poroelastic, thermal, and chemical stimulations. The aim of this work is to facilitate economic production of the nation's vast geothermal resources through development of effective completions and stimulation techniques. Active topics of research include:

  • Stimulation Optimization using Geologic and Geomechanics Principles
  • Modeling Fracture Clusters in Geothermal Reservoirs
  • Geomechanics-Based Stochastic Analysis of Injection-Induced Seismicity
  • Variation of In-situ Stress, and Fracture Slip in Response to Injection/Production
  • Optimum Wellbore Trajectory and Wellbore Stability Analysis
  • Experimental and Numerical Investigation of Coupled Poro-thermo-chemo-mechanical Analysis of Fracture Permeability

This research is conducted in partnership with the geothermal industry, and in collaboration with the National Laboratories.

Professor Ghassemi’s research at Utah FORGE addresses reservoir characterization, hydraulic fracturing design, diagnostic fracture induced testing (DFIT) in fracture rock, and other stress in-situ stress determination methods. In addition to providing experimental expertise to assess rock and fracture characteristics, and the potential impact of shear and mixed-mode stimulation, we contribute to stimulation design optimization using the GeoFrac family of thermo-poromechanical hydraulic fracturing and fracture network models that have been developed for large-scale studies.  The 2D version of GeoFrac considers rock anisotropy and natural fractures including their slip and propagation to form a network. The 3D version called GeoFeac3D incorporates rock heterogeneity and non-linearity, allows for poroelasticity, thermoelasticity, and mixed-mode propagation, and can be used to model multiple hydraulic fractures involving proppant transport and heat extraction. These will be used to help future stimulation design at FORGE.

The RGSR group has a world-class rock mechanics facility consisting of a number of MTS Material Testing Systems, 3 Polyaxial Testing units, 1 TTK Triaxial Test System, 1 Creep Test System, 1 API Fracturing Conductivity Test System, 3D laser Scanning System, etc. In addition to conventional rock mechanics testing such as uniaxial/triaxial compressive, static/dynamic, tensile strength, AE monitoring, hardness, fracture conductivity,  advanced/novel rock mechanics tests are used to evaluate large-scale hydraulic fracturing under true triaxial conditions, tracer performance, high temperature and high pressure effects, triaxial shear, direct shear, and fracture propagation and coalescence.  Currently, there are nine graduate students and two post-docs involved in the modeling and experimental work in the group.

Phase 2C Activities Kick-off

The snow is receding and the drilling of two new monitor wells for the Utah FORGE laboratory starts this week. The first well is being drilled to 1000’ and the second well will go to 3000’.  Both are situated near the existing deep well, 58-32, that was completed in 2017. The new wells being much shallower, should be completed by early April, when they will be instrumented with state of the art sensors. During the drilling process, geologists and engineers will be on site, in order to provide important information about rock types and shallow groundwater resources.

For background, this phase of work involves bringing the site up to readiness to drill the two deep wells later in the year that will become the centerpiece of the FORGE laboratory. In the short term, activities are focused on:

  • installation of a permanent seismic monitoring network
  • building infrastructure (power, site office, communications hub, upgraded roads)
  • mini-flow injection testing and interpretation of results
  • acquiring additional field data to refine geoscientific understanding
  • convening of the Science & Technology Analysis Team (STAT).