Magmaboorgat belooft onbeperkte energie infographic
Graphic shows location of the Krafla Magma Testbed and how the Supercritical Enhanced Geothermal System collects energy.


Magmaboorgat belooft onbeperkte energie

By Phil Bainbridge

January 10, 2024 - Scientists in Iceland plan to drill into a volcanic magma chamber in a bid to tap an unlimited clean energy supply – millions of times more than humanity’s annual requirements – and better forecast volcanic eruptions.

Following the discovery in 2009 of magma at a modest depth of only 2.1km by the Icelandic Deep Drilling Project at Krafla volcano, when the expectation had been to find a reservoir of supercritical water above a much deeper magma chamber, the Krafla Magma Testbed was established to create the world’s first research centre able to study magma directly.

Drilling will begin on the $25 million project in 2024, and the project will investigate the possibility of using supercritical water, heated by the magma at up to 1,000˚C, as a clean renewable energy source. AltaRock Energy, a Washington-based geothermal energy company, estimates that 0.1% of the Earth’s heat could supply humanity’s total energy needs for two million years.

Water reaches a supercritical state - where it has the properties of both a liquid and a gas - at over 373˚C and 220 Bar pressure. Typical geothermal systems use naturally occurring water vapour at only 250˚C to power a turbine, compared to 450˚C for fossil fuel power plants. Supercritical Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) involve cold water being pumped down to the magma chamber, where it would be heated to a supercritical state as it flows through natural fractures in the rock, then pumped back to the surface to power turbines with much greater efficiency.

PUBLISHED: 10/01/2024; STORY: Graphic News