Researchers turn abandoned oil well into giant geothermal battery

(ORDO NEWS) — A team of researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been able to turn an abandoned oil well into a geothermal energy storage system by repurposing a once polluting resource site into what they say is a clean energy battery.

According to the study authors of the project were able to use the deep underground structure as an “energy base” despite the fact that it does not actually produce geothermal energy.

The thing is that scientists have found that this abandoned well is an ideal place to build an artificial geothermal reservoir that stores energy in the form of heat in the surrounding rocks.

“Many of the same properties that make underground rock ideal for oil and gas production also make it ideal for geothermal storage,” said Tugce Baser, professor of environmental engineering at the University of Illinois and lead author of the project.

“And since our test site is a former gas well [we are talking about associated petroleum gas production], there is already some of the necessary infrastructure there.”

Win-win geothermal battery

The geothermal battery, according to the vision of the authors, will have to store excess heat from nearby industrial enterprises underground and release it in the form of electricity when there is a demand for it.

“The underground reservoir essentially acts like a large underground battery,” Baser added. “It’s a win-win situation.”

The Illinois Coal Basin is a giant geological feature that extends under almost the entire state, containing spongy rocks and minerals with excellent thermal conductivity. The insulating layers ensure that all the heat is not dissipated at once.

Researchers turn abandoned oil well into giant geothermal battery 2

In the test, Baser and her team took water preheated to 50 degrees Celsius and injected it into a layer of porous sandstone at a depth of 3,000 feet (914.4 meters) using an abandoned oil well for this purpose.

The results were amazing.

“Our field results, combined with further numerical simulations, show that this process can maintain a heat storage efficiency of 82 percent,” Baser said.

According to the study, this technology is not only economically viable, but even a profitable system capable of producing electricity at a competitive price.

“We have proven that the Illinois Basin can be an effective tool for storing excess thermal energy from industrial sources and, ultimately, from more sustainable sources such as wind and solar energy,” Baser concluded.


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