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Energy systems modeling

IRL has a longstanding and world-leading capability in underground reservoir engineering and modelling.  We help manage the sustainability of geothermal reservoirs by building a better understanding of changes to resources over time due to exploitation and natural events.  This enables better field management options to be designed and evaluated.

Modelling fluid flow in geothermal systems

IRL has been doing research into geothermal systems since the early developments at Wairakei in the 1950s. Over the years we have undertaken important research in many areas, such as characterisating the flow of two-phase fluids. In recent years we have developed ambitious regional scale models of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, which have suggested new mechanisms for flow controls in that region.

Our current research focus relates to the development of deep geothermal systems. These systems have the potential to provide large amounts of energy for New Zealand. The focus of this research is on developing technologies to utilise these systems.

Reactive transport modelling

IRL’s research into the modelling of fluid flows and chemical reactions is focussed on three main areas:

1) Modelling carbon dioxide sequestration in underground reservoirs: Predicting what will happen to C02 when it is stored in underground aquifers.

2) Modelling the chemistry of water and geothermal systems: Predicting the chemical makeup of the fluid in different parts of underground reservoirs due to boiling, condensation, mixing with cold groundwater  and the precipitation of minerals.

3) Modelling electrochemical reactions in metals: Modelling of ‘pitting’ defects in stainless steel and aluminium caused by electrochemical reactions and the transport of salts in fluid.