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Throwing Water In Volcanoes Could Generate Energy, Scientists Say


image1-158In a search for alternative means to generate energy, scientists have gone beyond what many of us can imagine. Often the new techniques happen to be far from feasible, or just border-line crazy. The latest such idea comes from US scientists, who plan to throw water in a dormant volcano in Central Oregon and harness the generated energy.

The idea behind this comes from a group of scientists, working at AltaRock Energy Inc., Seattle, and Davenport Newberry Holdings LLC. They claim that if cold water is poured into the side of the volcano, it will heat up and come back to the surface boiling hot. This heat can then be harnessed and converted into clean geothermal energy. Some time ago we told you about the project, when it was still in its planning stages, now it seems it is really on its way.

This whole thing sounds a bit ludicrous, but it has captured the attention of the world leading investors. The US Department of Energy is the biggest contributor, giving the incredible $21.5 million, while the remaining investors, including Google, will pitch in an extra $6.3 million.

The aim of the project is to give a boost to the slightly undervalued geothermal energy sector. The various problems associated with costs, technical difficulties, and of course, the fear of triggering further disasters such as earthquakes, have somehow limited the developments in the field.

The biggest concern in front of the team is whether they can introduce enough water to the system in order to make it economical. The amounts that they talk about are pretty impressive. The plan is to throw in 800 gallons of water each minute into the 10,600-foot test well at the Newberry Volcano, Central Oregon, for a total of 24 million gallons (see demo video here).

The biggest concern is related to safety of the team, as well as the people that live around the potential study sites, as the chances of inducing earthquakes is quite big. Strangely enough, the issue of water scarcity is somehow taken out of the equation and no one seems to be mentioning it.

I guess enough water should be thrown in there before they can conclude whether the waste was worth. I really do hope it turns out well for them, because otherwise they will have the whole of California (and Africa) against them.

Image (C) USGS

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  1. There are many ways to generate heat and electricity instead of depending on hydrocarbons.  These new innovations are finally coming to the forefront as hydrocarbons increase in cost.  Eventually sound logic will prevail as people realize the side effects of using energy need not be damage to the air, water, or people’s health.


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