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Innovative geothermal technology being showcased at central Alberta site

Demonstration project near Rocky Mountain House draws heat from deep underground

A geothermal project described as a huge underground radiator is proving its technology.

Eavor Technologies Inc. completed drilling a pair of 2.4-kilometre deep wells connected by a pair of underground pipelines for its closed-loop geothermal system last September.

Now being tested, the $10-million demonstration project east of Rocky Mountain House circulates liquids through kilometres of underground well bores, picking up heat before returning to the surface.

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

Eavor president and CEO John Redfern said testing carried out while the wells were drilled and connected went well, and now work is underway to test and demonstrate the technology’s thermosiphon effect.

The thermosiphon effect is a natural process that sees warmer liquids rise as colder, denser liquids are introduced.

That creates a continuous circulation of a benign liquid with high heat-retention properties without the need for pumping. A small pump is needed only to get the circulation started and then it continues on its own.

“From what I understand, everything is within two per cent of predicted in the (geothermal) model as we put it though its paces,” said Redfern.

“It’s a lot of fun to go out there and feel the heat radiating out of the pipe as the fluid moves around without any pump pushing it.”

Redfern said there has been lots of interest in the technology, including the Alberta government, which has invested $2 million. Another $13 million has been raised through other investors, including companies such as Precision Drilling and Shell New Energies.

“Even during the drilling phase, we had 14 different groups from 11 different countries come through and tour the construction phase of it,” he said. “Obviously, there’s going to be more people coming through.

“We’ve been marketing it for a year up to this point.”

Redfern said the first commercial project is expected to be built in Bavaria.

“We’ve got a deal there to take over a traditional failed geothermal (system).”

Eavor’s technology allows it to create a system using holes drilled by other geothermal companies that did not meet their technical needs.

“It’s almost as if you had a technology that if anyone ever drilled a dry hole in the oilpatch, you come in and say, ‘I can make that work,’” he said.

”That’s sort of what we have on the geothermal side.”

Eavor is already going through the application process in Germany, which is phasing out its coal power. Japan, Italy, France, Netherlands, the Caribbean, the U.S. and Canada have also shown interest.

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Paul Cowley

About the Author: Paul Cowley

Paul grew up in Brampton, Ont. and began his journalism career in 1990 at the Alaska Highway News in Fort. St. John, B.C.
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