Review and problem definition of water/rock reactions associated with injection of spent geothermal fluids from a geothermal plant into aquifers

Elders, Wilfred A.
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Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California -- Riverside
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Among the technical problems faced by the burgeoning geothermal industry is the disposal of spent fluids from power plants. Except in unusual circumstances the normal practice, especially in the USA, is to pump these spent fluids into injection wells to prevent contamination of surface waters, and possibly in some cases, to reduce pressure drawdown in the producing aquifers. This report is a survey of experience in geothermal injection, emphasizing geochemical problems, and a discussion of approaches to their possible mitigation. The extraction of enthalpy from geothermal fluid in power plants may cause solutions to be strongly supersaturated in various dissolved components such as silica, carbonates, sulfates, and sulfides. Injection of such supersaturated solutions into disposal wells has the potential to cause scaling in the well bores and plugging of the aquifers, leading to loss of injectivity. Various aspects of the geochemistry of geothermal brines and their potential for mineral formation are discussed, drawing upon a literature survey. Experience of brine treatment and handling, and the economics of mineral extraction are also addressed in this report. Finally suggestions are made on future needs for possible experimental, field and theoretical studies to avoid or control mineral scaling.
Report Number: UCR/IGPP-85/17; OSTI ID: 5293572; Legacy ID: DE86015084; ON: DE86015084
chemical analysis, geochemistry, geothermal fluids, groundwater, Hawaii, hydrology
Elders WA. 1986. Review and Problem Definition of Water/Rock Reactions Associated with Injection of Spent Geothermal Fluids from a Geothermal Plant into Aquifers. Riverside (CA): Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California -- Riverside.
129 pages
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