School of Mechanical & Mining Engineering

The centre has a well-deserved international reputation in the area of power conversion. Highlights of the research outcomes include the following:

  • Better tools to identify Queensland's geothermal heat source
  • CO2 geothermal siphon concept to power future development in Queensland
  • Better power generators for low-temperature geothermal and other renewables
  • Advanced condenser technologies for thermal power plants
  • Metal-foam heat exchangers

Find out past grants and contract research


Geothermal Research

Overview

Geothermal research within the Renewable Energy Conversion Centre of Excellence (RECCE) is structured to support geothermal development in Queensland, and to pursue fundamental research to facilitate widespread use of geothermal energy. Geothermal research at RECCE has included techniques to identify underground thermal energy resources; supporting the development of geothermal development in Queensland through evaluation of regional opportunities and analysis of geothermal power cycles; demonstration of ground source heat pump technology at UQ Gatton, and research into fluid flow behaviours for next-generation high-temperature drilling fluids.

 

Research Team

  • Dr Aleks Atrens
  • Dr Tonguς Uysal
  • Dr Yuanshen Lu
  • Dr Iman Ashtiani-Abdi
  • Dr Kamel Hooman
  • Dr Ampon Chumpia
  • Mr Hugh Russell

 

Research Foci

Identification of underground heat sources and fluid flow routes

A range of fundamental and applied research into the geochemical isotopes present in subterranean thermal waters has been produced. This research provides a basis for the identification of thermal active regions underground, and estimation of their temperature, and has been used in both Australia and internationally. The geochemical techniques also provide an approach to generate a more fundamental understanding of the deep geological structures present in Queensland beneath the Great Artesian Basin.


Supporting geothermal power development

As well as understanding the potential geothermal resources present, a number of practical collaborations have supported current and future geothermal energy development in Queensland. This has included providing expertise regarding the Birdsville Geothermal Power Plant Upgrade, evaluation of geothermal energy potential in western Queensland, analysis of power cycle performance for potential geothermal power developments. It has also included ancillary analysis of issues related to geothermal development such as precipitation in bore waters used for geothermal heat.

RECCE also takes long-term research to facilitate the development of deep high-temperature geothermal resources. This has previously included research on combining geothermal power generation with underground carbon storage. Current research (in collaboration with the School of Chemical Engineering) involves understanding the high-temperature rheology of complex fluids to develop the next generation of drilling fluid components.


Direct use of geothermal energy

Geothermal energy can be used directly for space heating and cooling. The Renewable Energy Conversion Centre of Excellence has embarked on both theoretical and experimental analysis of direct use of geothermal heat, with an emphasis on space heating and cooling via ground source heat pumps. This includes operating an experimental ground source heat pump facility, analysis to understand the performance of heat pumps in different climate regimes, and the use of geothermal heat in other sustainable applications such as protected cropping and animal enclosures.

Get in touch

Please contact us for more information on how you can engage with RECCE.

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