February 12, 2018
Conference Paper

Outcomes from a Collaborative Approach to a Code Comparison Study for Enhanced Geothermal Systems


A code comparison study, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Geothermal Technologies Office, has recently been completed whose stated purpose was to test, diagnose differences, and demonstrate the state of modeling capabilities developed at national laboratories and academic institutes within the United States for modeling enhanced geothermal systems. This three-year study comprised two sets of problems; those classified as benchmark problems and those classified as challenge problems. The benchmark problems were structured to test the ability of the collection of numerical simulators to solve various combinations of coupled thermal, hydrologic, geomechanical, and geochemical processes. This class of problems was strictly defined in terms of properties, driving forces, initial conditions, and boundary conditions. Study participants submitted solutions to problems for which their simulation tools were deemed capable or nearly capable. Some participating codes were originally developed for EGS applications whereas some others were designed for different applications but can simulate processes similar to those in EGS. Solution submissions from both were encouraged. In some cases participants made small incremental changes to their numerical simulation codes to address specific elements of the problem, and in other cases participants submitted solutions with existing simulation tools, acknowledging the limitations of the code. The challenge problems were based on the enhanced geothermal systems research conducted in hot dry rock at Fenton Hill, near Los Alamos, New Mexico, between 1974 and 1995, covering two research stimulation, development and circulation phases in two separate reservoirs. Both challenge problems have specific questions to be answered via numerical simulation in three topical areas: 1) reservoir creation/stimulation, 2) reactive and passive transport, and 3) thermal recovery. Whereas the benchmark class of problems were designed to test capabilities for modeling coupled processes under strictly specified conditions, the stated objective for the challenge class of problems was to demonstrate what new understanding of the Fenton Hill experiments could be realized via the application of modern numerical simulation tools by recognized expert practitioners. Critical observations and data from the Fenton Hill experiments were varied and scattered among a number of individual experiments, and numerical simulation solutions were sought that satisfied as many observations at possible. Achieving agreement in multiple experimental observations from Fenton Hill often required participants to critically think about stimulation mechanisms involving natural and hydraulic fractures and re-evaluate their conceptual models and numerical solution approaches. This process has yielded new insights to Fenton Hill reservoirs and direction for future EGS research. The keys to the success of this study were the high quality numerical simulation tools available, the expertise of the developers and practitioners, and the collaborative approach to reporting preliminary results among the study participants. This paper describes results submitted to the challenge problems and the outcomes of a collaborative approach to conducting a code comparison study.

Revised: June 14, 2019 | Published: February 12, 2018


White M.D., P. Fu, and M.W. McClure. 2018. Outcomes from a Collaborative Approach to a Code Comparison Study for Enhanced Geothermal Systems. In Proceedings of the 42nd Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering, February 13-15, 2017, Stanford, CA, Paper No. SGP-TR-212. Stanford, California:Stanford Geothermal Program. PNNL-SA-123708.