|Summary / Abstract
||The use of geothermal energy is expanding very rapidly. This type of energy has proven commercially profitable for generation of electricity, for space heating, process heating, auxiliary heating of water in conventional steam power plants and for recovery of chemicals contained in natural hot water and steam. Two types of geothermal energy sources are recognized: 1) hot springs in regions of nearly normal heat flow that tap a deep reservoir through which water moves slowly to a hot springs conduit and then rapidly to the surface; 2) hyperthermal areas in which the water is heated by a relatively concentrated heat source related to volcanicity. If there is a geologic trap that provides a geologic analog to a steam boiler, as at Larderello, Italy, the hyperthermal area will have a convecting system that develops superheated water at relatively shallow depth and may provide natural steam in large quantities. If a hyperthermal area is to be productive for a long time, the underflow into the reservoir should be slow enough to allow the heat source and convective system to heat the underflow to the working temperature, and the production rate must not exceed this rate of underflow. A model based on a typical aquifer suggests that the rate of movement of water through the reservoir be such that a few years are spent in transit between isotherms that are spaced about 2°F apart. The possibility of finding blind geothermal areas is illustrated by discussion of the techniques developed in evaluating the subsurface temperatures in the East Tintic district of Utah where a map of isotherms at water level (2000 to 2000 ft below the surface) shows that a hyperthermal area may exist a short distance southeast of the mining district.
Very nearly all of the energy that man currently uses comes ultimately from the sun's radiation. This includes water power, fuels such as wood, peat, coal and petroleum, the wind and all our animal power. In the paper summarizing a conference
on solar energyl6 the average amount of solar energy received daily on the earth is taken at about 1 cal per m2 per min or slightly less than 2 pcal per cm2 per sec; this is almost exactly the amount of energy on the average that the earth liberates in regions of normal geothermal gradient due to its own internal heating. In many places, however, the energy released is many times the average and in some of these hyperthermal areas, geothermal steam is used for generation of electricity, and hot springs are used for heating buildings and private dwellings, process heating, auxiliary heating of water in conventional steam power plants, and chemicals may be recoverable from both hot water and steam.
The use of hot springs waters for heating houses goes back hundreds of years but until recently was confined to a few dwellings close to the hot springs. In Korea, some houses had hot spring water channeled through conduits in the floor centuries ago and thus the Koreans can be credited with pioneer development of radiant heating. In Iceland at present nearly a third of the population uses natural thermal water for domestic heating." The Reykjavik system pipes hot spring water at about 94°C throughout the city and has devised insulated double pipes that allow the water to be piped for some 25 km with a drop of only 1°C for every 5 km. The actual cost to the Icelandic consumer is only one-third the cost of heating by imported coal and yet the industry is one of the most profitable in Iceland.
The most profitable use of geothermal energy has been its conversion into electricity which can be transmitted economically much greater distances than hot water. The largest installation at the present time is that at Larderello, Italy, where the Count of Larderello began to experiment in the production of electricity from geothermal steam 60 years ago — in 1904. He installed his first steam turbine, with a capacity of only 250 kw, in 1912 as the result of a local quarrel with the power company which furnished the current required in the Larderello chemical industry - an industry that then dated back nearly a century.
As experience was gained in drilling deep holes to tap geothermal steam and in converting it to electric power, the capacity of the installation of Larderello gradually increased, but was all destroyed by the Germans during their retreat from Italy in the closing