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High-performance heat exchangers for geothermal applications

Geothermal power plants provide a flexible source of energy, important to stabilise the fluctuations in the grid from other more intermittent renewable energy sources.

An area identified as important in improving the efficiency of geothermal plants, and reducing the initial and ongoing operating costs is the optimisation of the heat exchangers used.

Due to the inherently harsh environments of geothermal power plants, components are constantly under threat from corrosion and scaling issues, resulting in high capital, operational and maintenance costs. Heat exchangers bear the brunt of the harsh conditions, whether direct heat exchangers or Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) being under constant exposure to geothermal brine corrosion and scaling damage.

Project GeoHex aims to develop heat exchanger (HX) materials, addressing both the improvements in the anti-scaling and anti-corrosion properties as well as the heat transfer performance of the HX material, leading to more efficient and cost-effective systems.

Our Impacts

  • To significantly reduce the cost of a geothermal plant

  • To contribute towards strengthening the EU leadership on renewables

Technical Objectives

  • Develop tools to characterise bubble droplet dynamics, using both numerical simulation and the development of an image processing algorithm

  • Develop materials for 3 different heat transfer mechanisms used in heat exchangers:

    • Single phase heat transfer

    • Condensing surface

    • Boiling surface

  • Develop a sustainability model for GeoHex using parametric lifecycle assessment (LCA) and cost model of the GeoHex materials (to be developed in this project) to identify the environmental and cost performance of the materials

  • Develop a knowledge based engineering (KBE) tool combined with a multicriteria Decision-Support System (DSS) incorporating all the models and experimental results from the project.

  • Demonstrate the scalability and manufacturability of six prototype GeoHex materials.

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