Geothermal energy is a promising solution for reducing greenhouse gases and providing a local source of heat in the northern areas. However, the drilling required to install geothermal systems presents technological challenges that are undermining the development of this energy sector. With the new open laboratory for geothermal energy, professor Jasmin Raymond of INRS Centre Eau Terre Environnement will have new experimental capabilities to investigate solutions that reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
Funded equally by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI)'s John R. Evans Leaders Fund and the Québec government for a total of $400,000, this new facility combines the techniques of infrared scanning and tomodensitometry, a first for a geothermal energy laboratory. Researchers will be able to characterize the thermal and hydraulic properties of rock samples and model the impact of subsurface heterogeneity on the performance of geothermal systems.
Professor Raymond's team at the open laboratory for geothermal energy is seeking to better understand how groundwater flows and transfers heat so as to
- develop environments conducive to both shallow and deep geothermal systems,
- improve the design of the underground components of these systems, and
- develop new, more competitive technology.
"Our research will help identify geological environments with lower drilling costs for geothermal systems. This will make the Canadian geothermal energy industry more competitive in relation to fossil fuels," said professor Raymond, who also holds the Northern Geothermal Potential Research Chair.
The open laboratory for geothermal energy operates on the same principle as free software. It will be a learning environment where students can develop scientific knowledge in geology, hydrology, and mechanical engineering to solve subsurface energy challenges.
Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) is a graduate-level research and training university and ranks first in Canada for research intensity (average funding per professor). INRS brings together some 150 professors and close to 700 students and postdoctoral fellows at its four centres in Montreal, Quebec City, Laval, and Varennes. Its basic research is essential to the advancement of science in Quebec and internationally, and its research teams play a key role in the development of concrete solutions to the problems faced by our society.