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XGS Energy Uses Innovative Mud to Boost Power from Geothermal Wells

Image Credits: iStock.com/ClaudiaCooper
By: Headliners News / June 4, 2024

Geothermal energy wells often start strong but tend to lose their efficiency over time. In California, geothermal power generation has decreased by 15% from 2001 to 2018 due to well degradation. Meet XGS Energy, a geothermal startup, aims to reverse this trend with a unique solution.

Typically, geothermal plants inject water underground to absorb heat from the Earth’s depths, producing steam to drive turbines. However, as wells age, cracks may absorb too much water or close off, reducing their efficiency. Their team believes many old geothermal wells can be revitalized and new geothermal sites can be harnessed using XGS Energy’s innovative technology: a specialized mud designed to enhance heat conduction.

This mud is a slurry of water mixed with proprietary minerals and surfactants. When injected into the well, it fills the cracks around the borehole, improving heat conduction and making the wells more productive and predictable.

XGS Energy’s technology can be applied to both existing and new wells. New boreholes are simple vertical holes that don’t require expensive drilling equipment. Each borehole is lined with a metal casing, and the slurry is injected between the casing and the rock. Upon reaching a certain depth and temperature, the surfactants release the minerals, which then settle into the cracks, enhancing heat conduction.

This approach allows XGS Energy to use a single borehole to produce heat, unlike other methods that require multiple holes and are more costly due to water loss and mineral buildup. By keeping the water isolated within the metal-cased borehole, XGS Energy avoids these issues, reducing operational costs and allowing the use of more efficient heat exchangers.

XGS Energy is set to build a commercial-scale prototype at an existing geothermal field in California, starting in July. The project is funded by an additional $20 million in Series A financing led by Valo Ventures and VoLo Earth Ventures, with participation from B Current Impact Investment, MIH Capital, and Thin Line Capital.

Looking ahead, XGS Energy plans to adapt its technology for use in old oil and gas wells. While not all wells are suitable due to heat requirements, many regions in the U.S. have oil and gas wells hot enough to support geothermal power. This is the appropriate technology to re-power those wells, while having the potential to avoid the costs associated with plugging and abandoning these wells.

XGS Energy’s innovative mud solution offers a promising future for enhancing and expanding geothermal energy production, making it a key player in the renewable energy sector.

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