December 12, 2011

Students explore geothermal energy sites in southern Styria

December 10, 2011 Bad Blumau/Bad Waltersdorf

On Saturday, the 10th of December 2011, the students of class 2011-2013 were on their way to the thermal spa region of southern Styria. Not for swimming and relaxing but to explore Bad Blumau’s borehole #2 and Bad Waltersdorf’s geothermal district heating network. The group was accompanied by world class geothermal expert Professor Pál Valdimarson from the University of Reykjavik / Atlas Copco.

Mr. Schrei, one of three Schrei brothers from Bad Blumau, who all work as technicians for the facility, took time to give us a tour of his site. It consits of the borhole Bad Blumau #2, an ORC-process (Organic Rankine Cycle) for electricity production and a CO2 seperator / liquefier as well as a network of heat pipes for heating the Rogner spa complex in Bad Blumau. Professor Valdimarson was very active in re-explaining thermodynamic theory on the site of the ORC-process.

After lunch at the Bad Blumau spa the group went on to visit Mr. Toberer, the plant technician at Bad Waltersdorf. He impressed us with his flipchart presentation on his district heating network which he had especially prepared for our group. The speciality of this site was how heat energy is used in cascades for district heating, recreation in a series of spas and greenhouse gardening. A good discussion erupted on the pros and cons of re-injection, which at the end became a question of economics.

All things considered, the students could gain a good understanding of how geothermal energy can be used. Additionally, insight was gained on the operation and maintenance of the visited sites. Such close-up front experiences paired with the theoretical content of the lectures will prepare the students to view geothermal energy projects with an enquiring eye.

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