Calgary company testing new geothermal technology at central Alberta site

Eavor Technologies Inc. will use the earth’s natural heat for warming and energy

A Calgary company says a giant underground radiator is the easiest way to describe its unique technology to harness the Earth’s natural heat for warmth and power.

Eavor Technologies Inc. is developing a prototype for a closed-loop geothermal system that circulates liquids through kilometres of underground well bores, picking up heat before returning to the surface.

The heated liquid can be used for heating or to create power using heat-to-energy technology.

Eavor president and CEO John Redfern describes the technology as akin to creating a giant subsurface radiator.

The $10-million demonstration project will be ready for testing by this fall on a site between Rocky Mountain House and Sylvan Lake. The company is not revealing the exact location.

Besides showcasing the potential of its geothermal technology, known as Eavor-Loop, the facility is expected to be used as a research and development test bed.

Precision Drilling, Shell New Energies and Natural Resources Canada, which announced $6.7 million in funding last month, are among the partners working with Eavor.

Geothermal technology is not new. However, traditional large-scale projects have usually been limited to areas with uncommonly hot underground conditions.

“Alberta, in general, wasn’t a traditional geothermal hotbed, simply because we don’t have the geological heat here that traditional geothermal needs,” Redfern said.

Prime geothermal locations “tend to be on the Pacific Ring of Fire or Iceland, or places like that with active volcanoes.

“That is not us. So we had to come up with a different technology that could cost-effectively operate in moderately warm sedimentary basins like we have here.

“We have vastly expanded the geography where geothermal could work.”

Eavor’s closed-loop system involves drilling a pair of vertical wells 2.4 kilometres deep at the demonstration site. Horizontal well bores will connect the two vertical shafts.

The loop is closed above ground, with a 2.5-kilometre pipeline creating a closed system that circulates a benign fluid using a natural “thermosiphon effect” that causes warmer liquids to rise as colder, denser liquids are introduced.

“Once you get the motion going, it pumps itself,” he said. That eliminates the cost of running pumps, greatly reducing operating costs.

Redfern said the use of liquids designed for better heat retention than the typical brine found underground, and the closed-loop system, allow geothermal to work efficiently and cost-effectively in Alberta’s less-than-ideal conditions.

And unlike other systems, which pump heated underground brine out of aquifers to the surface before pumping cooled brine back down, Eavor’s system does not take anything out of the ground to produce heat or convert to energy.

Redfern said the technology can be used for just about any application. For instance, an Eavor-Loop would be a natural fit at a greenhouse business, or breweries, where large amounts of heat are required.

Since heat cannot be moved long distances efficiently, the Eavor-Loop system would be located near its user if heat is the requirement, said Paul Cairns, Eavor chief business development officer.

If used to generate electricity, which is easily transmitted, there is more flexibility on where the system can be placed and a broader potential market, said Cairns.

The company already has customers interested in the technology in Brazeau County. Other potential international customers are watching the results of the demonstration site closely.

In Alberta, where the oil and gas industry is weathering an extended slump, Eavor’s technology could provide jobs if it takes off. Just about all of the equipment used in the oilpatch can be used to build Eavor-Loops.

“This could be the spark to a tremendous amount of activity,” said Redfern.



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta, Ottawa sign deal that reduces oilsands environmental monitoring

EDMONTON — Alberta has signed an agreement with the federal government that… Continue reading

Two injured after plane crashes in interior B.C. parking lot

NELSON, B.C. — Two people were injured after a plane crashed and… Continue reading

Province to provide update on return-to-school measures Tuesday

Some parents will consider homeschooling if online learning isn’t available

Man dies after being found in North Saskatchewan River southwest of Edmonton

EDMONTON — A 53-year old man has died after he was found… Continue reading

Protester says officials wanted to remove teepee from Saskatchewan legislature

REGINA — An organizer of a month-long march calling for suicide prevention… Continue reading

David Marsden: Back-to-school plan makes sense

Albertans are wise to propose ways to improve students’ return to classrooms… Continue reading

Pay cuts, seating charts, COVID screening: How one B.C. venue is bringing back concerts

Alex Cuba wasn’t planning to be a trailblazer for the future of… Continue reading

Honda recalls 1.6M vans and SUVs in 4 different US recalls

DETROIT — Honda is recalling over 1.6 million minivans and SUVs in… Continue reading

Wall Street drifts as strong, months long rally takes a pause

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks are drifting in early trading on Tuesday… Continue reading

Manila back under lockdown as virus cases surge

MANILA, Philippines — Commuter trains, buses and other public vehicles stayed off… Continue reading

First cancer diagnosed in dinosaur fossil hints at communal life

First cancer diagnosed in dinosaur fossil hints at communal life EDMONTON —… Continue reading

NHL hit with criticism over English-only version of “O Canada” on Saturday

NHL hit with criticism over English-only version of “O Canada” on Saturday

Blackhawks’ Caggiula suspended for Game 2 vs. Oilers

Blackhawks’ Caggiula suspended for Game 2 vs. Oilers

Most Read