Skip to Main Content U.S. Department of Energy
Energy and Environment Directorate

Research Capabilities

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy has the potential to make a significant contribution to the United States' energy independence.  Geothermal Energy is a baseload renewable energy source that has a low environmental impact and no greenhouse emissions.

For the past 40+ years PNNL has been studying subsurface geology, chemistry, hydrology, and modeling as part of the Environmental Management (EM) program.  Additionally, PNNL has cultivated a very strong materials program.  These capabilities directly apply to the geothermal energy area that has recently seen resurgence.  Our current geothermal projects include development of a more efficient heat exchange media and geothermal tracers for geothermal reservoir characterization.  We have also conducted 30+ renewable energy evaluations for the Department of Defense.  Below is a list of our capabilities.

  • Subsurface expertise
    • Characterization and monitoring
    • Geochemistry
    • Geology
    • Hydrology (reservoir analysis)
    • Reservoir modeling and computer simulation
    • Field technology application and drilling experience
  • Carbon Dioxide expertise
    • CO2 and reservoir rock interactions
    • Unique tools for characterizing super critical CO2, water, and rock interactions
      • High pressure NMR, AFM, X-Ray Diffraction, scanning FTIR
      • Potential to apply to other fluids
  • Power plant experience
    • Instrumentation and operation
    • Modeling to predict scaling of brines
  • Process intensification
    • Ultra high efficiency heat exchangers
    • Energy analysis and thermal management
  • Materials development
    • Protective coatings
    • Tracer materials

geothermal map of USA
Geothermal resources in Washington based on shallow groundwater wells

Energy and Environment

Core Research Areas