I applied to do my PhD in geothermal geochemistry in New Zealand, because the high temperature geothermal was so different to what I had experienced before in Poland. Here it’s like the geology is alive!
Geothermal is renewable, and a natural resource. I like that so much is unknown, and a lot of the research we do is very pioneering. We are working at a frontier of knowledge in high temperature and high pressure water-rock interaction, and we are providing baseline information so that future generations can use geothermal energy sustainably.
I really enjoy how geothermal is collaborative, where so many different people and skills are needed to address complex questions. I like seeing how my research plays a part in helping geothermal be part of a greener energy future.
Lucjan Sajkowski, Terry M. Seward, Bruce W. Mountain, Leszek Marynowski. 1,5-Naphthalene disulfonate stability and breakdown kinetics in aqueous solutions under geothermal conditions. Geothermics, 91.
What was the research finding?
This study from my PhD provided evidence that the use of organic tracers in geothermal reservoirs is not perfect – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
Why is it important?
Tracers are used to monitor the connectivity between wells in an operating geothermal field. They work by adding a chemical compound (in this case, naphthalene disulfonate solutions) to geothermal fluids being injected back into the geothermal reservoir after energy has been extracted for electricity generation. The amount of tracer compound is measured in other wells in the same geothermal system, and this data is then used to map and model flow paths and quantify fluid flow underground.
At high temperatures many of these organic compounds break down, but how fast this occurs and under what conditions wasn’t determined. Knowing that this commonly used technique is not always reliable means operators can be smart about their use, because the break-down products could themselves be used as potential geothermal tracers.
Where are you?
Tongariro National Park; Mt Ngauruhoe is the peak visible over my left shoulder.
What are you doing?
Hiking and exploring my local volcanoes on the weekend.
Read more about Lucjan’s experience here.