Geothermal Energy at the Institute for Applied Computer Science
The Upper Rhine Graben between Basel and Mainz is considered to be a very promising region for deep geothermal energy exploitation in Germany. At Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, the geothermal temperatures are expected to be much higher than in other areas.
Being a member of the Helmholtz Association of National Research Centers, Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe cooperates closely with the Leipzig Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Potsdam German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ), thus combining skills and expertise in all fields of deep geothermal energy research.
The research activities of Universität Karlsruhe and Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe are coordinated at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Profound experiences gained from different disciplines over many years are available to find answers to topical issues of geothermal energy, geology, system analysis, and energy management.
The first superheated system reactor that was successfully put into operation at Soultz-sous-Forets in the Alsatian part of the Upper Rhine Graben and the ORC- and Kalina-based geothermal power plants in Landau and Bruchsal are among the path-breaking, exemplary geothermal energy projects that have been conducted in the region under review.
The research work is based on the unique geological conditons and on the close cooperation with other research institutions and the industry.
The geothermal energy issues discussed below are investigated at the Institute for Applied Computer Science that is located on the premises.
Semantic Data Models for Geothermal Energy
Standardized semantic data models facilitate the interoperability of systems and support the cooperation between the actors. In the recent years, significant standards have been developed and implemented for many fields of application. The Institute for Applied Computer Science is strongly committed to developing the models IFC (Industry Foundation Classes, architecture), CityGML (town planning), and XPlanGML (urban land use planning) in cooperation with several organizations and is involved in addition in the OGC (Open Geospatial Consortium. It is obvious that architecture, town planning, and urban land use planning share many topics. Each building needs a building ground, hence becomes part of a town model. The Institute for Applied Computer Science develops the model transformers that are required for transformation of the relevant semantic data models and their different information contents within such processes. Since, at town level, the richness of detail of individual buildings inevitably decreases, such transformation goes along with information losses.
Geothermal energy applications include the above-mentioned fields and aspects. District heating networks, for example, must be planned at town level considering, in addition, the semantic data models GeoSciML (geology) and WITSML (drilling technology). A close cooperation with the developers of these models ensures that the geothermal issues are considered properly. The enormous complexity of the related processes, however, does not allow the development of a specific geothermal data model that compiles all detail data in a consistent way. Emphasis will be placed instead on coping with the different standards within each application. The IfcExplorer has been introduced already as being a software which can meet that requirement to some extent. The respective models may overlap, be related or leave gaps. The focus, therefore, will be on the development of methods that can be standardized while correctly combining the different approaches. The sum of the semantic models of individual fields of application and these new methods provides the basis for “Geothermal Performance Modelling“ (see Fig. 1) that will ensure easy access to the entire available information.
A Kit for Geothermal Borehole Probes
In the oil and gas industry, various different probes and tools, mostly referred to as MWD and LWD (Measuring while Drilling und Logging while Drilling), have been used for many decades and have also been applied in so-called fishing operations for recovery of parts that have gone lost in boreholes. Since deep geothermal energy is stored at greater depths, reaching higher pressures and considerably higher temperatures, these tools may often reach their technical limits.
A kit for geothermal borehole probes has been conceived on the basis of an existing device (see Fig. 2) to provide a platform (see Fig. 3) that helps commercial operating companies and science in the time- and cost-saving development of new probes or tools that can cope with special problems. Samples from boreholes could be extracted, for example, by means of an imaging inspection probe or tool designed that way.