October 13, 2021

Team Profile:
Dale Altar

photo credit:
Dale Altar

1. Why are you involved in geothermal/supercritical research?

My entire professional career so far has been in the geothermal energy industry as an engineer. I always found it interesting how the reservoir and the steam field interact and welcome the challenge of understanding those interactions. The most enjoyable aspect for me is translating field data and experience into numbers and models that we could then use to understand those interactions better, predict potential futures and implement tangible changes that improve operations.

Back in 2017, I started my studies for a master’s degree in energy, and through that, I got introduced to coupled geochemical-hydrothermal numerical models, specifically on NCG reinjection.That turned out to be an excellent opportunity to learn more about the geochemical piece of the geothermal development puzzle and how it fits into a holistic resource management strategy. There’s still much to discover about reactive chemistry, its effect and its influences in geothermal reservoirs, especially under supercritical conditions. I’m excited to see what more we can learn from it and do as an industry. Geothermal research is a fantastic opportunity for this and to affect a positive impact on energy and ecological sustainability.

2. What is the favourite part of your work?

I have a long-standing interest in chemistry that I was able to indulge only occasionally since I left university, primarily to study silica scaling and corrosion. Now my research involves chemistry all day, even though it’s in numbers, and I’m not complaining about that. Learning how minerals react, their reaction kinetics, and how their concurrent reactions affect one another has been fascinating. I’m hoping for a chance to participate in laboratory experiments simulating geochemical interactions in reservoirs in the future. Ultimately I’m looking forward to studying the field-wide impacts of these hydrothermal reactions.

3. What is the publication you’re most proud of?

Altar, D. E., & Kaya, E. (2020). Numerical modelling of the interaction between geothermal injectate-noncondensable gas solutions and greywacke. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 94, 102922.

What was the research finding?

One finding of the research is that the reactive surface areas of minerals evolve as they dissolve and do not necessarily follow the spherical grain model. The changes may be due to the formation of etch pits during the dissolution process, increasing the reactive surface area as minerals dissolve. Second, the bulk fluid flow rate was also found to affect reaction rates. Lastly, it was shown that the pH-lowering effect of NCG addition promotes mineral dissolution, subsequently increasing the medium’s porosity and permeability.

Why is it important?

Reactive surface area evolution as geochemical reactions progress and the effect of bulk flow rate are important considerations for future modelling efforts for reactive systems. They should be appropriately accounted for to produce useful models. This research also indicates that NCG co-injection may be a viable permeability stimulation method for injectors.

4. What is your favourite photo of you doing research?

Where are you?

I don’t have a photo of myself doing research, so here’s one of me on Mount Paku.

What are you doing?

I enjoyed the views from Mount Paku after a day exploring thermal springs at Hot Water Beach and hiking at Cathedral Cove.

Read more about Dale's experience here.

read more




numerical modelling
reservoir modelling
non-condensable gases (NCG)
Dale Altar
reservoir engineering

Further Updates