A comparison of electric power output of CO2 Plume Geothermal (CPG) and brine geothermal systems for varying reservoir conditions

Benjamin M. Adams, Thomas H. Kuehn, Jeffrey M. Bielicki, Jimmy B. Randolph, Martin O. Saar

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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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-377
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Energy
StatePublished - Feb 5 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding from a National Science Foundation (NSF) Sustainable Energy Pathways (SEP) Program Grant ( 1230691 ) is gratefully acknowledged. We would also like to thank the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE), a signature program of the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota (UMN), for initial seed funding. M.O.S. thanks the George and Orpha Gibson endowment for its support of the Hydrogeology and Geofluids Research Group. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF, IREE, IonE, or UMN.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Carbon dioxide
  • Carbon dioxide plume
  • Carbon dioxide utilization
  • Geothermal energy
  • Renewable energy
  • Working fluid


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