Science

Iceland To Harness Energy By Drilling Deep Enough To Tap Molten Magma

By J Russ I. , Oct 23, 2016 02:39 AM EDT
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Through the years, renewable energy has been seen by the energy industry as a far better alternative than fossil fuel. Aside from being environmentally-friendly, the endless source of energy from the wind and the sun outweighs the cost of building a structure capable of harnessing them.

Solar plant, wind turbines, and geothermal rigs have popped out all over the world to provide power for thousands of houses. While geothermal energy involves drilling into the earth to tap hot rocks for a power source, Iceland is digging way deeper into the boundary of tectonic plates to harvest energy generated by oozing magma.

'Supercritical Steam' Holds More Energy Than Gas Or Water

The country began drilling on August 12 using a rig to dig five kilometers under the rugged landscape of old lava flows in Reykjane located at the southwest corner of Iceland, according to News Scientist. Albert Albertsson, assistant director of the geothermal energy company involved in the project, said that the drilling will penetrate a landward extension of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

"People have drilled into hard rock at this depth, but never before into a fluid system like this," said Albertsson. He added that there's a possibility that they're to find the landward equal of what they call "black smokers," hot underwater springs that contain a large amount of minerals like lithium, silver, and gold.

The pressure at that depth is estimated to reach more than 200 times atmospheric levels, according to Popular Mechanics. Companies and researchers involved in the endeavor are expecting water to be in the form of "supercritical steam," which is neither gas nor liquid and generates more heat energy than either.

A well that is capable of harnessing such steam is estimated to produce an energy output of 50 megawatts, compared to the five megawatts usually gained by a typical geothermal well, said Albertsson. The result would provide power to about 50,000 homes, as opposed to the 5,000 number that a single well offers.

Iceland To Drill The Hottest Hole In The World By Year's End

Iceland doesn't use fossil fuels any longer and produces its electricity through renewable energy. It's estimated that three-quarter of the country's energy source comes from its massive hydroelectric power stations.

If they could successfully harness the supercritical steam mentioned earlier, geothermal energy will likely be the main source of Iceland's power supply as it already has a string of geothermal plants scattered all over the country. Iceland hopes to create the hottest hole in the world by the end of the year, with the hole's temperatures reaching from 400 up to 1000 Celsius.

 

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