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Pouring Water Into a Volcano To Generate Power

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the pele-approved dept.

Earth 321

Hugh Pickens writes "Until recently, geothermal power systems have exploited only resources where naturally occurring heat, water, and rock permeability are sufficient to allow energy extraction. Now, geothermal energy developers plan use a new technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) to pump 24 million gallons of water into the side of the dormant Newberrry Volcano, located about 20 miles south of Bend, Oregon, in an effort to use the earth's heat to generate power. 'We know the heat is there,' says Susan Petty, president of AltaRock Energy, Inc. of Seattle. 'The big issue is can we circulate enough water through the system to make it economic.' Since natural cracks and pores do not allow economic flow rates, the permeability of the volcanic rock can be enhanced with EGS by pumping high-pressure cold water down an injection well into the rock, creating tiny fractures in the rock, a process known as hydroshearing. Then cold water is pumped down production wells into the reservoir, and the steam is drawn out. Natural geothermal resources only account for about 0.3 percent of U.S. electricity production, but a 2007 Massachusetts Institute of Technology report projected EGS could bump that to 10 percent within 50 years, at prices competitive with fossil-fuels. 'The important question we need to answer now,' says USGS geophysicist Colin Williams, 'is how geothermal fits into the renewable energy picture, and how EGS fits. How much it is going to cost, and how much is available.'"

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321 comments

Not just that (4, Interesting)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705464)

Why not throwing the waste there instead of the landfill?

Re:Not just that (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705494)

I think this would be a great idea if it could work. The problem would most likely be polution. There is also the political issues of the fact that burning trash would emit CO2. I personaly think AGW is a load of crap, but I do recognize that some people would feel it important enough to bring the government down on this practice.

The other problem is that wouldn't want everything that goes into a landfill being burned and put into the atmosphere, quite a lot would be toxic. I think that if you started seperating what's OK from what's bad, you'd end up with a pile of landfill waste, a pile of recyclable items, and a very small if not nonexistant pile of volcano fuel.

Plus there shouldn't be any need. If what I've read is correct, the energy created by the (inactive)volcano would far surpass our ability to extract energy.

Re:Not just that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705620)

It might cost a metric fuckton or 2 in money, work and fuel to _ship_ _waste_ vs. gained benefits.

They're going to frack a Volcano? (5, Insightful)

aoeu (532208) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705476)

What could possibly go wrong . . .

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (5, Insightful)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705500)

Part of me agrees with you; however, another part of me thinks that until we try, we'll never know whether our fears are just that, fears.

So I, for one, think we should consider it.

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (5, Insightful)

fafaforza (248976) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705558)

I wouldn't want a profit driven corporation in charge of something like this. They'll have an interest in making it work no matter if there are warning signs or risks.

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705580)

At least you can sue the corporation when they fuck up. good luck with the government

yea (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705616)

sue, and do what, exactly ? gain a $5 bn award in damages ? after a volcano erupts, kills a few thousand, poisons a few more million mildly through what it releases ?

what happened when bp fucked up the entire mexico gulf ecosystem ?

Re:yea (0)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705820)

sue, and do what, exactly ? gain a $5 bn award in damages ? after a volcano erupts, kills a few thousand, poisons a few more million mildly through what it releases ?

what happened when bp fucked up the entire mexico gulf ecosystem ?

1) There's now incentive to stop really harmful activities. 2) Those private businesses that cause harm pay compensation for their harm. and 3) Those businesses go away, if they cause enough harm.

Re:yea (3, Insightful)

yahwotqa (817672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705902)

That's nice, but the bar for "enough" is set too high.

Re:yea (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38706046)

What makes you think that is the case? In my view, it's often set too high. For example, buying property in the developed world often carries with it vast, hidden environmental liabilities.

Re:yea (5, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38706126)

- 1) There's now incentive to stop really harmful activities

there is ?!?!!?! do you think gulf spill was the first dumbfounding disaster in corporate history ? what makes it any different now ?

- 2) Those private businesses that cause harm pay compensation for their harm

will that bring back 2000 or so dead people ?

- 3) Those businesses go away, if they cause enough harm.

did exxon mobil go away ? did pfizer go away after poisoning hundreds of thousands in india ? have bp gone away ?

Re:yea (3, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38706208)

there is ?!?!!?! do you think gulf spill was the first dumbfounding disaster in corporate history ? what makes it any different now ?

No, nor will it be the last. One also has to consider the size, frequency, and duration of such accidents. For example, the Deepwater Horizon spill was stopped in a few short months. BP could have in the absence of regulation and liability, just ignored the spill (leaving it permanently on) and moved on.

Re:yea (4, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705830)

And no one's gone to the trouble of modeling what happens when you chill down part of a lava dome. Does it harden, then blow sky high? Does it pressure masses underneath the caldera to cause nice earthquakes? Do you get a nice fissure opening up somewhere else to flow the lava into new and vulnerable areas? How long before the solidification means you have drill new spots? How are you going to stabilize the old spots? I don't think there are any lava-eating bacteria to help save the day here. There is nothing we have that's going to repair a newly active caldera. Look at what St Helens did, just a few miles up the road. Talk about playing with matches....

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705816)

Last time I checked, even $5 billion can't resurrect the dead after being buried alive in a boiling mud flow.

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38706048)

yes, look how well that worked out with BP.... oh wait

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (4, Insightful)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38706122)

At least you can sue the corporation when they fuck up. good luck with the government

You mean... there's a difference?

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705802)

Same go with that politically driven government agency. They too have an interest in making it work no matter if there are warning signs or risks. The difference is that the ability to sue a private company is a stronger control mechanism for precisely this situation that the ballot box.

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (4, Interesting)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705598)

This reminds me of one of the stories about the Manhattan Project. Before the first (Trinity) test, Enrico Fermi began offering anyone listening a wager on "whether or not the bomb would ignite the atmosphere, and if so, whether it would merely destroy New Mexico or destroy the world." They still went through with it.

I heard the same thing about the German V2 (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705720)

There were apparently theories that the upper atmosphere was uncombined hydrogen
and oxygen, and that there was a chance a V2 going high enough would set it off.
Lotta nerve there.

Re:I heard the same thing about the German V2 (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705778)

There were apparently theories that the upper atmosphere was uncombined hydrogen and oxygen, and that there was a chance a V2 going high enough would set it off. Lotta nerve there.

They also must have thought that all those countless meteors must be really polite to respect the "no smoking" warnings every time they are flying throught that layer.

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705622)

Even if we try, we probably won't know that. Assuming that it can go wrong, that doesn't imply that it will go wrong on the first try within the first year.

Well... (4, Interesting)

denzacar (181829) | more than 2 years ago | (#38706078)

When the person representing the corporation in charge says something like this:

"We know the heat is there," said Susan Petty, president of AltaRock.
"The big issue is can we circulate enough water through the system to make it economic."

And the expert seismologist [scientificamerican.com] says something like this:

We've been monitoring [The Geysers] since 1975.
All the earthquakes we see there are [human] induced.
When they move production into a new area, earthquakes start there, and when they stop production, the earthquakes stop.

Well... You kinda have a reason to fear. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Well... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38706152)

Fear what? Small earthquakes? If something bad could happen, wouldn't it be better to know than not know?

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705518)

Please mod parent up, dear lord that's funny, and exactly what I was thinking.

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (4, Funny)

JWW (79176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705604)

Look at it this way. It's a low emissions way to generate power which will help combat global warming.

OR

It will set off the volcano and release particles into the atmosphere which will combat global warming.

It's all good!

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705974)

OR

You're accelerating the transfer of heat from the mantle into the atmosphere, which increases global warming.

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705688)

Forget faucets that spew water that can be lit on fire, soon we shall have our own lava faucets in each and every household in america!

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38706110)

You must be late to the game. I've been using lava buckets since 2009 to fill my incinerators. It's really nice since you no longer need to take out the trash. It's not hard to find either. Just dig straight down and you'll hit it eventually. The only downsides is it seems to cause a fire hazard if your house is made largely of wood planks.

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (2, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705694)

by pumping high-pressure cold water down an injection well into the rock, creating tiny fractures in the rock, a process known as hydroshearing.

They can't call it Fraking because all the folks in Oregon would come at them with torches scythes, and pitchforks.

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (1)

rhubarb42 (887861) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705762)

precisely. Even though it's only water (no 10% special additional chemicals), I can imagine this having similar effects of increasing the toxicity of the drinkable ground table due to leaching. Unless they can demonstrate that X million gallons of water will remain contained in a closed loop this will have similar effect.

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705734)

What could possibly go wrong . . .

For example, mixing minerals with water tends to decrease their melting point, and the resulting hydrated magma tends to have lower viscosity, so there you have one possible Mount-Doom-like scenario in real life.

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705832)

What could possibly go wrong . . .

For example, mixing minerals with water tends to decrease their melting point, and the resulting hydrated magma tends to have lower viscosity, so there you have one possible Mount-Doom-like scenario in real life.

It's only Portland. Calm down.

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | more than 2 years ago | (#38706176)

Are you sure that hydrated magma has a lower viscosity? I seem to remember being told that the volcanoes in the Andes are more explosive because of the sea-water from the Pacific being drawn down in the cenvection zone. But that was probably in one of those horrible volcano shows on TV.

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (5, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705922)

What could possibly go wrong . . .

Michael Bay is inspired for a new movie?

Re:They're going to frack a Volcano? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38706090)

This is relatively safe, compared to... nuclear reactors. At least with a volcano you have the option of relocating without that pesky radiation. But it's only viable along the Pacific Ring of Fire, and Iceland.

Anyway, what can go wrong:
1. Pressure builds up and causes the Volcano (lava) to erupt
2. Pressure builds at the water table, turns acidic, the surrounding population has no potable water
3. This: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidoarjo_mud_flow (mud volcano)

But the payoff for any kind of geothermal power source is extremely high, and if you look at Google's geothermal map, you'd also notice that virtually all of the Pacific coast is like that.

As for the other question posed. "Fueling", I think what needs to happen is that this needs to be combined with desalination. Dump sea water or other non-potable water into it, pipe the steam through the turbines, then run it through a condenser and salvage clean water from it. Add some limestone to stabilize the taste and hardness. Simply letting the steam into the atmosphere just increases global warming through water vapor.

Water shortages? (4, Insightful)

acoustix (123925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705508)

I didn't RTFA, but with our projected water shortages coming in the future do we really want to be pumping millions of gallons for energy? Surely there's a better way to get usable energy.

Re:Water shortages? (3, Insightful)

fafaforza (248976) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705564)

They could use salt water. Desalinating water is still fairly expensive, as far as I know, so that might not take away from the availability of drinkable water. Though what effect the salt would have on the process would have to be studied.

Re:Water shortages? (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705602)

Hmm. Still, salt water has salt in it. Corrosive salts. I wonder if the plumbing would be able to withstand it.

Re:Water shortages? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705632)

They're putting water in and taking steam out. The salt is going to be left in the ground. And given there's a shortage of cracks and fissures down there already, that doesn't sound like a good thing.

Re:Water shortages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705672)

The oceans are already becoming less salty due to global warming. Could using sea water remove significantly more salt from the oceans?

Re:Water shortages? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#38706162)

Could using sea water remove significantly more salt from the oceans?

24 million gallons of water is a drop in the ocean to the oceans.

Closed Loop System (2)

tenex (766192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705724)

The article describes a closed loop system, not one where they'd be simply dumping water down the pipe continuously from an infinate supply. Some volume of water is being pumped down, the water heated by the rock, the energy extracted, and then that same water being sent back down through the loop.

Re:Water shortages? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705576)

There is indeed a much better way to obtain huge quantities of usable energy. Waste less of it on unnecessary luxuries.

Re:Water shortages? (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38706102)

There is indeed a much better way to obtain huge quantities of usable energy. Waste less of it on unnecessary luxuries.

You breathing == unnecessary luxury. That pretty much sums up the problem with having someone decide what is a necessary thing and what is an unnecessary luxury.

Re:Water shortages? (1)

lessthan (977374) | more than 2 years ago | (#38706168)

What is the point of technology then? Shall we go back to washing our clothes in the river? Think of all the energy we'd save!

Re:Water shortages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705608)

I didn't RTFA either, but with our projected desertification coming in the future, once we get that volcano cracked the survivors will have plenty of fertile lava soil.

Re:Water shortages? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705610)

Not sure about that volcano in particular, but if one close to the ocean could be used, you pump salt water, and get that water back eventually. In any case, you won't get a shortage of that water.

Re:Water shortages? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705690)

We are not living in the future, but in the present. It's not like the freshwater we don't use will stay in reserve, they will flow in the sea eventually even if we don't use it so why not?

Re:Water shortages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38706200)

The future is the present to come and the present is the past just not yet.

Ignoring the future and living shortsighted only in the present is the utter most stupid thing to say, think or do.

Re:Water shortages? (4, Insightful)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705710)

The volcano is right between two decent sized lakes so there's plenty of water available.

As far as water "shortages", it's really a water distribution problem. There's plenty of fresh water flowing down rivers into the ocean. But people like to live in desert climates like Phoenix and Las Vegas where they don't have to worry about rainy days messing up the golf they play on irrigated fairways.

Re:Water shortages? (2)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705726)

And if you had RTFA you would know that the plan involves recovering the steam, condensing it back to water to send back down. It is a mostly closed system. Their chief issue is whether or not they can get the steam back fast enough to keep the system going. Just throwing water in a volcano and letting the steam dissipate wouldn't actually generate any energy.

Re:Water shortages? (1)

Alomex (148003) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705808)

our projected water shortages

These shortages assume no improvements over desalination technology. In fact full scale desalination is already feasible today though the price of water would go up by a factor of 10x. Given how much we waste today (we literally flush it down the toilet) this is not as bad as it sounds.

Add in efforts in water conservation such as deploying drip irrigation everywhere and better recycling (see Las Vegas and Singapore for leading efforts in that regard) and frankly the whole water shortages threat seems vastly overstated.

Re:Water shortages? (1)

hedleyroos (817147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705870)

If it works we can use water we would have used for coal power stations in any case. Plus it's nearly a closed loop system right?

Re:Water shortages? (2)

dapyx (665882) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705964)

There's no global shortage of fresh water. There are huge untapped lakes and rivers. There are water shortages in some places where we need it for agriculture or human consumption. Oregon has a low population density, so I doubt they have any water shortages.

Re:Water shortages? (1)

skine (1524819) | more than 2 years ago | (#38706100)

Water shortages are largely either local or temporary phenomena.

For example, I grew up in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, and forty miles to Lake Ontario. It would take a significant amount of effort to cause a water shortage there.

stop messing with nature! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705520)

Humans are cancer of the Earth! Stop messing with nature! This is stupid. Something totally unforseen is going to happen...either a disaster or a change to the Earth or climate that causes many negative things to happen!!

I think the only nice power-related invention humans made (that seems to be harmless) is solar power.

Re:stop messing with nature! (2)

TarMil (1623915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705562)

I think the only nice power-related invention humans made (that seems to be harmless) is solar power.

Yes! Let's cover miles and miles of land with solar panels, that's totally not messing with nature!

i think that is true (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705590)

Something totally unforseen is going to happen

we are so carelessly messing with this planet in so many ways that, it is just a matter of time until something goes really haywire. and, for such stuff, once is enough.

do we know whether volcanoes are connected to any other volcano through any kind of crustal dynamics ? no. have we mapped the entirety of crustal dynamics below ANY volcano up till this date ? no. we cant even drill that deep near a volcano.

we dont know a lot of shit. current situation resembles an early 19th century scientist researching in electricity and chemistry and being haphazard in his experiments. the difference is, when things went wrong, what would happen in that case would happen to the scientist's persona or at most his house. in the case of planet, it will affect us all.

this is not how science is done. or rather, this is not science at all - this is engineering, trying to preempt science. its as if trying to make an electric car without even knowing how to make an electric motor.

Re:i think that is true (1)

cyber49 (1540549) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705612)

I agree, and at first thought this was a joke... How can this seem to anyone like a good / safe / smart idea?

Re:i think that is true (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705674)

at first i though they were just going to use the heat volcano generates. and then thought that would be unreliable in the long run. then i saw they were wanting to create 'microcracks' by pumping cold water into volcano to make it 'economic'. and the assurance is, some location in hawaii being doing that. 'nothing happened so far' is the guarantee. despite the impossibility of modeling and predicting the structural reactions and integrity of a complex structure like a volcano. not to mention its structural and material properties being not totally known. so far nothing happened in hawaii. but a day later than this those microcracks can suddenly develop into huge cracks and we may be watching it on cnn.

Re:i think that is true (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705938)

Conversely, what's wrong with the idea? Worst case is that they trigger a modest volcanic eruption and create a tourist attraction. Net win for Oregon.

Re:i think that is true (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705912)

we are so carelessly messing with this planet in so many ways that, it is just a matter of time until something goes really haywire. and, for such stuff, once is enough.

So would you say that it'd be a good idea to keep people who can't understand the consequences of their actions from breeding? Be sure then to turn your reproductive organs at the Bureau of Carefully Messing with Nature.

do we know whether volcanoes are connected to any other volcano through any kind of crustal dynamics ? no. have we mapped the entirety of crustal dynamics below ANY volcano up till this date ? no. we cant even drill that deep near a volcano.

Yes, and we also know it doesn't matter. You exhibit remarkable ignorance here. The first thing to consider is what is happening to the system. It's being massive cranked around by the cooling of Earth. Entire continents are shoved around. That mixing prevents massive build ups of energy over large scales from happening. Local build ups of energy (such as strain in the crust) can still occur so it is possible for a geothermal project in the right place to trigger a strong local earthquake or a really poorly thought out one to trigger a volcanic eruption.

we dont know a lot of shit. current situation resembles an early 19th century scientist researching in electricity and chemistry and being haphazard in his experiments. the difference is, when things went wrong, what would happen in that case would happen to the scientist's persona or at most his house. in the case of planet, it will affect us all.

It doesn't. You don't know a lot of shit doesn't mean the rest of us are similarly ignorant.

this is not how science is done. or rather, this is not science at all - this is engineering, trying to preempt science. its as if trying to make an electric car without even knowing how to make an electric motor.

You already admitted this was how it was done in the 19th century, which I might add, was when a lot of serious research got done. And why are you down playing engineering here? This is a engineering project not a scientific one, so of course, engineering preempts science as it should!

Re:stop messing with nature! (5, Insightful)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705640)

Sounds like someone took The Day After Tomorrow a little too seriously...

Seriously, though, any method of producing energy will necessarily have a negative impact on something. Here in Norway, we have a lot of "clean" hydropower, but that has always faced opposition from environmentalists worrying about salmon and other fish, and from the native Sami people in the north. If you want to reduce global CO2 emissions, you are inevitably going to damage something else in some way. It is always a tradeoff, trying to find the least total negative impact.

Re:stop messing with nature! (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705838)

Humans are cancer of the Earth!

Humans are the most interesting thing to have ever happened to Earth. So there's some ecological damage? That's a small price for what's going on.

Head to Hawaii... (5, Informative)

TrailerTrash (91309) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705572)

They've been there, done that:

http://www.punageothermalventure.com/

A 30 MW plant producing heat and energy from the world's most active volcano. An 8 MW addition was just approved, and the utility (HELCO) is looking to expand even further:

http://www.hawaii247.com/2012/01/06/helco-announces-plans-to-expand-geothermal-energy-on-the-big-island/

If there is an area that has a shot at 100% of their electricity from non-petroleum sources, it's the Big Island, with abundant wind, solar and geothermal options.

Re:Head to Hawaii... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705722)

The Saint Michael island from the Azores archipelago already has a 10MW geothermal power plant supplying the island since 1976.

Re:Head to Hawaii... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705844)

I find it a bit amusing that the utility responsible for producing electricity from a volcano is named HELCO.

Uh.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705582)

Wouldn't this cause it to rain more? Fuck rain.

Renewable energy is a myth. (4, Funny)

Luke727 (547923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705588)

In the long run the universe will achieve heat death.

Re:Renewable energy is a myth. (4, Funny)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705628)

From what we have observed of the universe, yes, that does appear to be the long term diagnosis.

In the short-term, though, I'm more worried about the Sun undergoing its projected expansion phase (in a few billion years), or human beings accidentally finding a way to stop the Earth's dynamo (that one actually keeps me up at night).

Re:Renewable energy is a myth. (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705968)

In the short-term, though, I'm more worried about the Sun undergoing its projected expansion phase (in a few billion years), or human beings accidentally finding a way to stop the Earth's dynamo (that one actually keeps me up at night).

I don't care about either of these alleged threats. We have enough time to move the Earth, should we desire that. And moving the Earth is easier to do than "stopping the dynamo", which would probably be accomplished by taking the Earth apart completely at which point, either life as we know it no longer exists or the problem of space habitation was solved long ago.

Re:Renewable energy is a myth. (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705754)

In the long run the universe will achieve heat death.

The only guarantee is that in the long run we are all going to be dead. In the short run (say, millions of years) the earth has such a collosal amount of heat that humanity is not going to run it out.

Besides the Earth's heat is going leak out by erupting volcanoes anyhow. A big one going off is like a million megatons of TNT going off. If we can extract that heat energy slowly we could power the entire world for it for hundreds of years... from the energy that is released in a single eruption.

I think you underestimate just how insignificant humanity's energy needs are.

Headline fail (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705662)

This is about pumping water into the volcano crust at a pressure so high that it bursts rocks. It's hardly "pouring".

Pouring water into volcanos... (5, Funny)

nxcho (754392) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705666)

...is also useful to generate cobblestone, especially on some pvp maps.

Yellowstone would be a better idea. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705680)

Seriously.

Underground plant. Cover the entire area. Extract all that delicious heat.
Replace natural features of the landscape caused by the heat with more efficient, focused artificial reactions. (such as the geyser,)

The amount of energy underneath there is HUGE. There is no reason not to.
And if done right, it could cool rocks over time and push back that large bubble that could pop at any time.
With a dynamic design to the heat pipes so they could be pushed down further, it could potentially push it back for good.

Those park owners really are stupid. They'd rather see the entire park vaporize than see themselves make huge amounts of money and STILL HAVE A PARK.

Long Term Effects of Cooling an Active Volcano (2)

Stashiv (2042490) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705708)

Has anyone stopped to wonder what the long term effects of the cooling of this active volcano by pouring hundreds of millions of water in it might be?

Re:Long Term Effects of Cooling an Active Volcano (2)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705746)

Well unless the laws of thermodynamics changed overnight, I'm not too overly concerned. Then again...did the laws of thermodynamics change overnight? Did someone create a perpetual motion machine? Did entropy really go away...

Re:Long Term Effects of Cooling an Active Volcano (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705784)

Did entropy really go away...

Nope. Its alive and well here on Slashdot.

Re:Long Term Effects of Cooling an Active Volcano (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705854)

Has anyone stopped to wonder what the long term effects of the cooling of this active volcano by pouring hundreds of millions of water in it might be?

Long term effects? I'd be more worried about shooting high pressure water down there and getting a faceful of hot lava coming right back up.

oh fracking gawd... (1, Troll)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705716)

Yeah, let us engage in elaborate engineering works to discover the geological consequences of fracking with 'dormant' volcanoes -- what a valuable learning experience. Spend untold millions over 50 years to go for that grail of 10% electrical production.

Meanwhile, 103 out-dated nuclear power plants are presently generating 20% of the whole grid, TODAY. With state-of-the-art designs, some up-scaling nuclear could generate 101% of the grid TOMORROW (ok well, let's say 10-15 years...)

The thing never discussed along with geothermal energy potential is the highly corrosive environment that the turbines must work with. The thing never discussed along with wind potential the laughably impossible task of keeping enough generators working at any one time -- to accomplish anything other than fleecing the customer and keep the subsidies flowing.

Photonic Solar Energy does not scale, and the first climate/volcanic cloud cover event is the end of civilization. The only way solar could scale to current demand (and penetrate cloud cover) is if it were captured in geosynchronous orbit and beamed to earth stations in a diffuse beam of microwaves. But then you have a SINGLE entity in control of world power generation which is another name for 'one world government' -- any takers?

These alternative-to-nuclear energy methods are mental lollipops to suck on while we delay making a decision. Success and survival if we go nuclear, failure and endless war over oil if we don't.

Note to human race: go seriously nuclear soon alreay, or die.

Re:oh fracking gawd... (2)

amoeba1911 (978485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705786)

Uranium isn't unlimited either.

Re:oh fracking gawd... (2)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705928)

True, true -- it isn't, but there are stopgap measures such as breeder reactors [wikipedia.org] and "enhanced burnup" ["Up to a third of all electricity produced in the current US reactor fleet comes from bred fuel, and the industry is working steadily to increase that percentage as time goes on."] Ultimately off-world sources (alas not the moon, insufficient concentrations of heavy elements) or some Really-Better-Than-Fissile-Nuclear energy option when it comes along. I believe fission is the only thing that will buy us enough time.

Sorry for the rant and thread drift, thanks for the reply.

Re:oh fracking gawd... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705996)

Yeah, let us engage in elaborate engineering works to discover the geological consequences of fracking with 'dormant' volcanoes -- what a valuable learning experience. Spend untold millions over 50 years to go for that grail of 10% electrical production.

It amazes me that you think you're being sarcastic here.

Not again? (3, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705748)

The results of that review have not yet been announced, but the type of geothermal energy explored in Basel and at the Geysers requires fracturing the bedrock then circulating water through the cracks to produce steam. By its nature, fracturing creates earthquakes [nytimes.com] , though most of them are small.

I live near The Geysers, where "treated" sewage water is pumped into the ground in order to keep geothermal production up at the powerplant, which is perpetually over budget and under production, and which has produced a superfund site where they formerly buried the spray-off from the turbine wheels in drums. The turbines are produced by Halliburton — I've seen the red Halliburton truck dragging one up Bottle Rock Rd. on a massive flatbed. Failure all around... the one bright spot is that there is a process for making claims for damage due to the euphemistically-named "microseismicity" [andersonsprings.org] as it is generally accepted that the pumping causes quakes.

Re:Not again? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38706018)

You live in California, failure is the natural state of things. The real question is does this geothermal plant fails unusually hard for the area?

Re:Not again? (5, Informative)

dj245 (732906) | more than 2 years ago | (#38706026)

The turbines are produced by Halliburton — I've seen the red Halliburton truck dragging one up Bottle Rock Rd. on a massive flatbed.

Sorry but no. Most of the Geysers turbines were manufactured by Toshiba Corp (sorry, PDF) [google.com] , with the exception of 2 turbines which were manufactured by GE (these may be retired now). New or replacement turbines are definitely competitively bid, since my company bids on them. Halliburton doesn't make steam turbines. If indeed you have seen Halliburton at the geysers, they must have been a transportation contractor or something like that.

As for the "superfund site", I can't find anything on this that is less than 15 years old. And this report [epa.gov] from 1983 says there is nothing hazardous at the Geysers. I'll agree it is a very old report and standards have changed since then, but the only other EPA document available is in 1995- they seem to have capped some wells that had the potential of a hydrogen sulfide explosion. Hardly the "drums full of toxic chemicals" that you are implying.

Volcano God want ... (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705822)

... virgins! Not cold shower.

Volcano God plenty angry now. Flatten peasants' puny city.

spon6E (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705914)

The proje3t to

Water Vapor: The new enviro-enemy (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705926)

Forget everything you've heard about carbon. Water vapor will be the poster child for environmental disaster in 2025.

It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature! (1)

woboyle (1044168) | more than 2 years ago | (#38706062)

So, what happens when the volcano decides that it doesn't like the cold shower, and erupts much like Mount St. Helen did a few years ago... :-( I think I can spell "exothermic reaction".

Vocanoes Banksters Coincidence? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38706186)

Well if you aren't going to toss all the banksters (and their enablers) in there under the current domestic terrorism law, maybe instead make cheap solar panels (in the USA), (and some swiming pool plastic parts) so joe 6 pack can generate hydrogen at home for their vehicle or cooking or soldering even. Just think of all the free safe and sane loud bangs on New Years!
http://www.youtube.com/user/Mr2tuff#p/u/7/g6oAF57YmtU
Okay a small setback, but the man is fuckin onto it!!!
Re-Tool it.

If we need plasma fire in spark plugs and engines to be stainless steel
Re-Tool it

if we need to design RF to hit the resonant freq's of water
Re-Tool it.

This will create jobs, demand, products, materials, creativity and fun, instead of COG, Patriot Act, DHS, TSA, WAR, NDAA, PIPA, ACTA, SOPA, Agenda 21, Carbon Tax, Green-Tards all these stupid fucking electronics laws with battery chargers and all the rest of this psychopathic bullshit as we simply do not NEED these motherfuckers anymore to stay alive on our own!

If anything, with all the time and money freed up now, with all the psychopaths gone, we ought all be trying to think ways to fix fukushima

2012
I doubt our monetary system is not going to make 2013 It's DONE, it's toast. If it survives it's be cause the whole thing is an IDEA and not reality.
So lets get back to the root, Restore the US CONSTITUTION. This is where all the fckin cracks came in all this shit from

You can call me names, but you KNOW I AM RIGHT!

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