Skip to main content
 

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

About Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Managed by the University of California, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory conducts unclassified research across a wide range of scientific disciplines. Berkeley Lab's energy efficiency innovations have contributed more than $484B to the U.S. economy and we are delighted to partner with small businesses to solve some of their most pressing challenges across the areas of buildings, bio-energy, advanced manufacturing, vehicles, fuel cells and geothermal research and technologies. Strategically located in the Bay Area ecosystem of innovation, Berkeley Lab creates 12,000 jobs and contributed $1.6B to the US economy annually.

Capabilities

Since 1970 the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has supported scientists and engineers at Berkeley Lab to stimulate industrial development of geothermal resources. The primary mission of our DOE supported R&D program is twofold: to reduce uncertainties associated with finding, characterizing, and evaluating natural geothermal resources, and to develop and understand the enhancement of permeability and fluid flow to increase fluid production through subsurface engineering, i.e., enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). The Berkeley Lab program encompasses theoretical, laboratory, and field studies, with an emphasis on multidisciplinary approaches. We seek to transform fundamental scientific concepts, derived through our basic research studies, into tangible products that can be applied directly by the geothermal industry.

Expertise, Techniques, and Equipment

Our expertise, techniques, and equipment is categorized into three main areas:

Geophysical techniques for subsurface imaging

  • Imaging reservoir stimulation, subsurface structures, alteration, and fluids
  • Improved imaging resolution
  • Coupled data inversion and analysis (acoustic, EM, rock physics)
  • Monitoring, analysis, and mitigation of induced seismicity

Geochemical and isotope techniques for tracing fluid-rock histories

  • Multicomponent geothermometry to predict subsurface reservoir temperatures
  • Isotopic signatures to identify sources of geothermal fluids
  • Reactive transport in fractured media
  • Geochemical impact on permeability, physical properties of rocks
  • Flow path engineering (creation, mitigation)
  • Improved tracer technology (natural and injected tracers)

Reservoir engineering and coupled process modeling

  • Predictive, inverse, and process models
  • Coupled Thermal-Hydrologic-Mechanical-Chemical processes
  • TOUGH family of codes

Facilities

Berkeley Lab's Geothermal Program has access to several world-class instrumentation, analytical, and simulation resources that support and augment research projects.

Center for Computational Geoscience (CCG): The CCG maintains a state-of-the-art computing environment that supports various seismological and geophysical research programs, in particular the development of new methods for imaging the subsurface and its processes, and methods for visualizing results.

Center for Isotope Geochemistry (CIG): The CIG consists of state-of-the-art analytical facilities to measure concentrations and isotopic compositions of elements in rocks, minerals, and fluids in the earth’s crust, atmosphere, and oceans. The CIG houses laboratories for analyses of refractory (non-volatile) elements by thermal ionization and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and light elements and noble gases by conventional gas-source mass spectrometry.

Geosciences Measurement Facility (GMF): The GMF has an extensive inventory of commercial and world-unique equipment, and a staff that can support a variety of laboratory and field research. GMF engineers and technicians develop novel instrumentation and field methods, conduct field experiments, and perform project management associated with subsurface, terrestrial, atmosphere, and ocean-based projects.

Rock Dynamics and Imaging Lab (RDIL): The RDIL consists of facilities for preparing samples and conducting geomechanical, hydrological, and geophysical tests on geological materials under elevated temperature and pressure. It also includes an X-ray CT imaging facility with core-scale multiphysics experimental capability. Ultra-high resolution synchrotron computed tomographic imaging and nanometer-scale imaging capabilities using the focused-ion-beam milling/SEM imaging technique are linked to the RDIL through partnerships with the ALS and Materials Sciences Division.

Photo of a geothermal machine that shows the door open on the machine showing a metal rotor.
Photo of scientists in a lab anlayzing contents in a large life size container.
Photo of lab equipment in a laboratory.