Benjamin Adams Publications

Dr. Benjamin M. Adams, P.E.

Post-Doctoral Associate; Licensed Professional Mechanical Engineer; Techno-Economist


Mailing Address
Dr. Benjamin Adams
Geothermal Energy & Geofluids
Institute of Geophysics
NO F 61
Sonneggstrasse 5
CH-8092 Zurich Switzerland
Google Scholar

Benjamin M. Adams

Contact
Phone +41 44 633 8903
Email badams@ethz.ch

Administration
Dominique Ballarin Dolfin
Phone +41 44 632 3465
Email ballarin(at)ethz.ch

Publications

[Go to Proceedings Refereed]  [Go to Theses]

Underlined names are links to recent or past GEG members

REFEREED PUBLICATIONS IN JOURNALS

7. 
Adams, B.M., D. Vogler, T.H. Kuehn, J.M. Bielicki, N. Garapati, and M.O. Saar Heat Depletion in Sedimentary Basins and its Effect on the Design and Electric Power Output of CO2 Plume Geothermal (CPG) Systems Renewable Energy, (in press). [View Abstract]CO2 Plume Geothermal (CPG) energy systems circulate geologically stored CO2 to extract geothermal heat from naturally permeable sedimentary basins. CPG systems can generate more electricity than brine systems in geologic reservoirs with moderate temperature and permeability. Here, we numerically simulate the temperature depletion of a sedimentary basin and find the corresponding CPG electricity generation variation over time. We find that for a given reservoir depth, temperature, thickness, permeability, and well configuration, an optimal well spacing provides the largest average electric generation over the reservoir lifetime. If wells are spaced closer than optimal, higher peak electricity is generated, but the reservoir heat depletes more quickly. If wells are spaced greater than optimal, reservoirs maintain heat longer but have higher resistance to flow and thus lower peak electricity is generated. Additionally, spacing the wells 10% greater than optimal affects electricity generation less than spacing wells 10% closer than optimal. Our simulations also show that for a 300 m thick reservoir, a 707 m well spacing provides consistent electricity over 50 years, whereas a 300 m well spacing yields large heat and electricity reductions over time. Finally, increasing injection or production well pipe diameters does not necessarily increase average electric generation.

6. 
Garapati, N., B.M. Adams, M.R. Fleming, T.H. Kuehn, and M.O. Saar Combining brine or CO2 geothermal preheating with low-temperature waste heat: A higher-efficiency hybrid geothermal power system Journal of CO2 Utilization, 42, 2020. [Download PDF] [View Abstract]Hybrid geothermal power plants operate by using geothermal fluid to preheat the working fluid of a higher temperature power cycle for electricity generation. This has been shown to yield higher electricity generation than the combination of a stand-alone geothermal power plant and the higher-temperature power cycle. Here, we test both a direct CO2 hybrid geothermal system and an indirect brine hybrid geothermal system. The direct CO2 hybrid geothermal system is a CO2 Plume Geothermal (CPG) system, which uses CO2 as the subsurface working fluid, but with auxiliary heat addition to the geologically produced CO2 at the surface. The indirect brine geothermal system uses the hot geologically produced brine to preheat the secondary working fluid (CO2) within a secondary power cycle. We find that the direct CPG-hybrid system and the indirect brine-hybrid system both can generate 20 % more electric power than the summed power of individual geothermal and auxiliary systems in some cases. Each hybrid system has an optimum turbine inlet temperature which maximizes the electric power generated, and is typically between 100 ◦C and 200 ◦C in the systems examined. The optimum turbine inlet temperature tends to occur where the geothermal heat contribution is between 50 % and 70 % of the total heat addition to the hybrid system. Lastly, the CO2 direct system has lower wellhead temperatures than indirect brine and therefore can utilize lower temperature resources.

5. 
Fleming, M.R., B.M. Adams, T.H. Kuehn, J.M. Bielicki, and M.O. Saar Increased Power Generation due to Exothermic Water Exsolution in CO2 Plume Geothermal (CPG) Power Plants Geothermics, 88/101865, 2020. [Download PDF] [View Abstract]A direct CO2-Plume Geothermal (CPG) system is a novel technology that uses captured and geologically stored CO2 as the subsurface working uid in sedimentary basin reservoirs to extract geothermal energy. In such a CPG system, the CO2 that enters the production well is likely saturated with H2O from the geothermal reser- voir. However, direct CPG models thus far have only considered energy production via pure (i.e. dry) CO2 in the production well and its direct conversion in power generation equipment. Therefore, we analyze here, how the wellhead uid pressure, temperature, liquid water fraction, and the resultant CPG turbine power output are impacted by the production of CO2 saturated with H2O for reservoir depths ranging from 2.5 km to 5.0 km and geothermal temperature gradients between 20 °C/km and 50 °C/km. We demonstrate that the H2O in solution is exothermically exsolved in the vertical well, increasing the uid temperature relative to dry CO2, resulting in the production of liquid H2O at the wellhead. The increased wellhead uid temperature increases the turbine power output on average by 15% to 25% and up to a maximum of 41%, when the water enthalpy of exsolution is considered and the water is (conservatively) removed before the turbine, which decreases the uid mass ow rate through the turbine and thus power output. We show that the enthalpy of exsolution and the CO2-H2O so- lution density are fundamental components in the calculation of CPG power generation and thus should not be neglected or substituted with the properties of dry CO2.

4. 
Ezekiel, J., A. Ebigbo, B. M. Adams, and M. O. Saar Combining natural gas recovery and CO2-based geothermal energy extraction for electric power generation Applied Energy, 269/115012, 2020. [Download PDF] [View Abstract]We investigate the potential for extracting heat from produced natural gas and utilizing supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) as a working uid for the dual purpose of enhancing gas recovery (EGR) and extracting geo- thermal energy (CO2-Plume Geothermal – CPG) from deep natural gas reservoirs for electric power generation, while ultimately storing all of the subsurface-injected CO2. Thus, the approach constitutes a CO2 capture double- utilization and storage (CCUUS) system. The synergies achieved by the above combinations include shared infrastructure and subsurface working uid. We integrate the reservoir processes with the wellbore and surface power-generation systems such that the combined system’s power output can be optimized. Using the subsurface uid ow and heat transport simulation code TOUGH2, coupled to a wellbore heat-transfer model, we set up an anticlinal natural gas reservoir model and assess the technical feasibility of the proposed system. The simulations show that the injection of CO2 for natural gas recovery and for the establishment of a CO2 plume (necessary for CPG) can be conveniently combined. During the CPG stage, following EGR, a CO2-circulation mass owrate of 110 kg/s results in a maximum net power output of 2 MWe for this initial, conceptual, small system, which is scalable. After a decade, the net power decreases when thermal breakthrough occurs at the production wells. The results con rm that the combined system can improve the gas eld’s overall energy production, enable CO2 sequestration, and extend the useful lifetime of the gas eld. Hence, deep (partially depleted) natural gas re- servoirs appear to constitute ideal sites for the deployment of not only geologic CO2 storage but also CPG.

3. 
Ogland-Hand, J.D., J.M. Bielicki, Y. Wang, B.M. Adams, T.A. Buscheck, and M.O. Saar The value of bulk energy storage for reducing CO2 emissions and water requirements from regional electricity systems. Energy Conversion and Management, 181, pp. 674-685, 2019. [Download PDF] [View Abstract]The implementation of bulk energy storage (BES) technologies can help to achieve higher penetration and utilization of variable renewable energy technologies (e.g., wind and solar), but it can also alter the dispatch order in regional electricity systems in other ways. These changes to the dispatch order affect the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that is emitted to the atmosphere and the amount of total water that is required by the electricity generating facilities. In a case study of the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas system, we separately investigated the value that three BES technologies (CO2- Geothermal Bulk Energy Storage, Compressed Air Energy Storage, Pumped Hydro Energy Storage) could have for reducing system-wide CO2 emissions and water requirements. In addition to increasing the utilization of wind power capacity, the dispatch of BES also led to an increase in the utilization of natural gas power capacity and of coal power capacity, and a decrease in the utilization of nuclear power capacity, depending on the character of the net load, the CO2 price, the water price, and the BES technology. These changes to the dispatch order provided positive value (e.g., increase in natural gas generally reduced CO2 emissions; decrease in nuclear utilization always decreased water requirements) or negative value (e.g., increase in coal generally increased CO2 emissions; increase in natural gas sometimes increased water requirements) to the regional electricity system. We also found that these values to the system can be greater than the cost of operating the BES facility. At present, there are mechanisms to compensate BES facilities for ancillary grid services, and our results suggest that similar mechanisms could be enacted to compensate BES facilities for their contribution to the environmental sustainability of the system.

2. 
Adams, B.M., T.H. Kuehn, J.M. Bielicki, J.B. Randolph, and M.O. Saar A comparison of electric power output of CO2 Plume Geothermal (CPG) and brine geothermal systems for varying reservoir conditions Applied Energy, 140, pp. 365-377, 2015. [Download PDF] [View Abstract]In contrast to conventional hydrothermal systems or enhanced geothermal systems, CO2 Plume Geothermal (CPG) systems generate electricity by using CO2 that has been geothermally heated due to sequestration in a sedimentary basin. Four CPG and two brine-based geothermal systems are modeled to estimate their power production for sedimentary basin reservoir depths between 1 and 5km, geothermal temperature gradients from 20 to 50°Ckm-1, reservoir permeabilities from 1×10-15 to 1×10-12m2 and well casing inner diameters from 0.14m to 0.41m. Results show that CPG direct-type systems produce more electricity than brine-based geothermal systems at depths between 2 and 3km, and at permeabilities between 10-14 and 10-13m2, often by a factor of two. This better performance of CPG is due to the low kinematic viscosity of CO2, relative to brine at those depths, and the strong thermosiphon effect generated by CO2. When CO2 is used instead of R245fa as the secondary working fluid in an organic Rankine cycle (ORC), the power production of both the CPG and the brine-reservoir system increases substantially; for example, by 22% and 20% for subsurface brine and CO2 systems, respectively, with a 35°Ckm-1 thermal gradient, 0.27m production and 0.41m injection well diameters, and 5×10-14m2 reservoir permeability.

1. 
Adams, B.M., T.H. Kuehn, J.M. Bielicki, J.B. Randolph, and M.O. Saar On the importance of the thermosiphon effect in CPG (CO2-Plume geothermal) power systems Energy, 69, pp. 409-418, 2014. [Download PDF] [View Abstract]CPG (CO2 Plume Geothermal) energy systems use CO2 to extract thermal energy from naturally permeable geologic formations at depth. CO2 has advantages over brine: high mobility, low solubility of amorphous silica, and higher density sensitivity to temperature. The density of CO2 changes substantially between geothermal reservoir and surface plant, resulting in a buoyancy-driven convective current – a thermosiphon – that reduces or eliminates pumping requirements. We estimated and compared the strength of this thermosiphon for CO2 and for 20 weight percent NaCl brine for reservoir depths up to 5 km and geothermal gradients of 20, 35, and 50 °C/km. We found that through the reservoir, CO2 has a pressure drop approximately 3–12 times less than brine at the same mass flowrate, making the CO2 thermosiphon sufficient to produce power using reservoirs as shallow as 0.5 km. At 2.5 km depth with a 35 °C/km gradient – the approximate western U.S. continental mean – the CO2 thermosiphon converted approximately 10% of the energy extracted from the reservoir to fluid circulation, compared to less than 1% with brine, where additional mechanical pumping is necessary. We found CO2 is a particularly advantageous working fluid at depths between 0.5 km and 3 km.


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PROCEEDINGS REFEREED

2. 
Rossi, E., B. Adams, D. Vogler, Ph. Rudolf von Rohr, B. Kammermann, and M.O. Saar Advanced drilling technologies to improve the economics of deep geo-resource utilization , Applied Energy Symposium: MIT A+B, pp. 1-6, (in press). [View Abstract]Access to deep energy resources (geothermal energy, hydrocarbons) from deep reservoirs will play a fundamental role over the next decades. However, drilling of deep wells to extract deep geo-resources is extremely expensive. As a fact, drilling deep wells into hard, crystalline rocks represents a major challenge for conventional rotary drilling systems, featuring high rates of drill bit wear and requiring frequent drill bit replacements, low penetration rates and poor process efficiency. Therefore, with the aim of improving the overall economics to access deep geo-resources in hard rocks, in this work, we focus on two novel drilling methods, namely: the Combined Thermo-Mechanical Drilling (CTMD) and the Plasma-Pulse Geo-Drilling (PPGD) technologies. The goal of this research and development project is the effective reduction of the costs of drilling in general and particularly regarding accessing and using deep geothermal energy, oil or gas resources. In this work, we present these two novel drilling technologies and focus on evaluating the process efficiency and the drilling performance of these methods, compared to conventional rotary drilling.

1. 
Garapati, N., B.M. Adams, J.M. Bielicki, P. Schaedle, J.B. Randolph, T.H. Kuehn, and M.O. Saar A Hybrid Geothermal Energy Conversion Technology - A Potential Solution for Production of Electricity from Shallow Geothermal Resources , Energy Procedia, 114, pp. 7107-7117, 2017. [Download PDF] [View Abstract]Geothermal energy has been successfully employed in Switzerland for more than a century for direct use but presently there is no electricity being produced from geothermal sources. After the nuclear power plant catastrophe in Fukushima, Japan, the Swiss Federal Assembly decided to gradually phase out the Swiss nuclear energy program. Deep geothermal energy is a potential resource for clean and nearly CO2-free electricity production that can supplant nuclear power in Switzerland and worldwide. Deep geothermal resources often require enhancement of the permeability of hot-dry rock at significant depths (4-6 km), which can induce seismicity. The geothermal power projects in the Cities of Basel and St. Gallen, Switzerland, were suspended due to earthquakes that occurred during hydraulic stimulation and drilling, respectively. Here we present an alternative unconventional geothermal energy utilization approach that uses shallower, lower-temperature, naturally permeable regions, that drastically reduce drilling costs and induced seismicity. This approach uses geothermal heat to supplement a secondary energy source. Thus this hybrid approach may enable utilization of geothermal energy in many regions in Switzerland and elsewhere, that otherwise could not be used for geothermal electricity generation. In this work, we determine the net power output, energy conversion efficiencies, and economics of these hybrid power plants, where the geothermal power plant is actually a CO2-based plant. Parameters varied include geothermal reservoir depth (2.5-4.5 km) and turbine inlet temperature (100-220 °C) after auxiliary heating. We find that hybrid power plants outperform two individual, i.e., stand-alone geothermal and waste-heat power plants, where moderate geothermal energy is available. Furthermore, such hybrid power plants are more economical than separate power plants.


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THESES

1. 
Adams, B.M. On the power performance and integration of carbon-dioxide plume geothermal (CPG) electrical energy production., Dissertation, University of Minnesota, http://hdl.handle.net/11299/17518, 168 pp., 2015. [View Abstract]CO2 Plume Geothermal (CPG) energy is a method for producing electricity from heat extracted from hot rock layers or reservoirs deep within the earth's crust. CPG is differentiated from other geothermal technologies by several factors: 1) CPG uses CO2 as the primary geologic working fluid instead of brine, 2) CPG utilizes naturally permeable porous reservoirs to extract heat, such as saline aquifers or depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs, 3) CPG is deep--a CPG reservoir must have a depth of 1 km to maintain CO2 in its supercritical state; though depths of 2 to 5 km are more common, and 4) CPG utilizes reservoirs at common geologic temperature gradients, unlike traditional hydrothermal which utilizes shallow reservoirs of unusually high temperature. Thus, CPG is intended to be integrated into an existing CO2 sequestration site affording an economic return on CO2 capture expenses by providing carbon-neutral, dispatchable electricity. Even when CPG is used as a base-load power source, it correlates well with electrical demand, unlike wind and solar (Chapter 5). Typically, CPG configurations consist of one or more injection and production wells. These wells link the surface plant with the porous reservoir to create a fluid circuit. Cooled fluid is injected at the surface, heated within the reservoir, and then returned to the surface at higher temperature and pressure which can then be used to create electricity. The variation in CO2 density between injection and production wells creates a thermosiphon which can drive circulation of CO2 without the use of pumps (Chapter 2). The geologic CO2 can be passed directly through a turbine, called a direct system, or heat can be extracted and used to power an Organic Rankine Cycle, called an indirect system. Either system may be used to generate electricity, although a direct system will nearly always produce more electricity than the indirect system. With reservoirs at moderate depth and temperature, these direct systems will also produce more electricity than comparable brine hydrothermal systems (Chapter 3). The reservoir well spacing and diameter affect the average power and longevity of a CPG system. For every combination of well diameter and reservoir depth, temperature, permeability, and thickness, an optimum spacing between the central injection well and a circumferential collection well will provide the greatest power output over time; placing the collection well too close to the injection well depletes the reservoir too quickly while spacing it too far away increases pressure losses, decreasing the overall power (Chapter 4). Likewise, the selection of too small a well diameter will limit mass flowrate, and thus power, while an oversized well diameter may quickly deplete the reservoir and provide no additional benefit (Chapters 3 & 4). This research has provided a significantly deeper understanding of CPG power systems and their operation. The impact of this work is to establish a basis of CPG research to be used in several ways. It can directly inform industrial developments, such as a green-field implementation of CPG or the long-term planning of a CPG-ready Carbon Capture and Storage site. This work may also be the basis for future economic or policy analyses that can further argue for the development of CPG. Thus, this work will help enable CPG as part of the 21st century energy portfolio.