Modeling the coupling between free and forced convection in a vertical permeable slot: implications for the heat production of an Enhanced Geothermal System

Abstract : The aim of the hydraulic stimulations in the Soultz-sous-Forêts, France, Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) project was to create, in crystalline rocks, a fractured reservoir 750 m high, 750 m long and 35 m thick interconnecting the injection and production wells. Increasing the permeability in a zone with a high geothermal gradient will trigger free convection, which will interact with the forced flow driven by pumping. A systematic numerical study of the coupling between forced and free convective flows has been performed by considering a large range of injection rates and Rayleigh numbers. The simulations showed that if there is weak or no free convection in an EGS reservoir, economic exploitation of the system will rapidly end because of a decrease in produced fluid temperature. The maximum injection rate preventing such a temperature drop increases with the Rayleigh number and the height of the stimulated domain. The model establishes constraints on the conditions for achieving optimal heat extraction at the Soultz-sous-Forêts EGS site. It was also shown that, although mineral precipitation may partially close or heal some open fissures, it does not lead to a major decrease of the hydraulic conductivity in the stimulated reservoir.
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Arnaud Battaillé, Pierre Genthon, Michel Rabinowicz, Bertrand Fritz. Modeling the coupling between free and forced convection in a vertical permeable slot: implications for the heat production of an Enhanced Geothermal System. Geothermics, Elsevier, 2006, 35 (5-6), pp.654-682. ⟨10.1016/j.geothermics.2006.11.008⟩. ⟨ird-00310440⟩

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