Volcano Power Is Hot!


Renewable energy is always a hot topic of conversation.  Scientists have been exploring different types of green energy for many years, trying to find alternatives to using up the non-renewable resources.  Because of a number of accidents, scientists have discovered that the hot magma from volcanoes could possibly power the world.  Looking closer at the studies, it seems that neither the volcano nor the magma themselves are going to be the actual power source, but a link in order to achieve power from water.

The system will work to produce energy by yielding an end result of supercritical water, which is water that is hot enough to boil off into steam but is under too much pressure to expand to the vapor state.  Because of all this pressure, the water, although hot enough to boil into vapor, remains liquid.  The idea is that this supercritical water will be bled of the pressurized site and be pumped through turbines which will convert the hot water into energy.  At this point, the resultant energy can then be sent to power stations.

The originating idea for this transfer of energy began in 1985, when a geothermal well was being drilled in Iceland.  The workers hit a pocket of super-heated, pressurized steam.  The resultant scientific study concluded that a pocket of water heated past 374 degrees Celsius and under a pressure higher than 222 bars will create supercritical water.  Once this supercritical water reaches an area where it can expand, it becomes a highly pressurized, super-hot steam.  Scientists and engineers became excited about the possibility of using volcanoes in order to create this pressurized hot water and turn it into electrical power.  It could be possible to actually achieve ten times the amount of electricity from this method than we are currently obtaining from other geothermal wells.

The system created by scientists and engineers requires that underground networks of fissures near hot rock or magma be pumped full of water.  Deep underground drilling is expected to provide these access points.  The water pumped into these areas will have no available outlets to expand.  It will become heated to the point where it would normally turn into steam.  However, because there is no room for expansion into steam, the water will remains in a liquid state and thus become what is known as supercritical.  Eventually, this superheated water is released into other fractures which will be connected to another, outgoing pump, which will then send the matter through turbines.  This process already has a name, hydroshearing.

In October 2012, scientists and engineers began putting this system into practice in an area near a volcano located in Oregon, the Newberry Volcano.  Deep underground wells were drilled for vast amounts of water to be pumped into these man-made fissures.   The water would be heated, farmed for the energy, then recycled and reused by being pumped back through the system again.

This system is still being evaluated.  The companies and the people involved have fended off many inflammatory claims that the system will cause the volcano to erupt.  The parties involved claim that there is no supporting evidence to any claims of unsafe conditions or results.  Meanwhile, scientists and engineers continue to evaluate and enhance the system to produce the most energy possible.  The volcano and its magma will continue to be a realistic possibility to create hot water on a scale that can produce an enormous amount of energy which could power our world.

By Dee Mueller


Popular Science


Environmental News Network

4 Responses to "Volcano Power Is Hot!"

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