TC Chair: Marcelo Sanchez Castilla
Host Member Society: USA
Short name: Energy Geotechnics (TC308)
SPECIALTY CONFERENCES TO DATE:
- Symposium on “Energy Geotechnics”, SEG-2015. Barcelona, Spain, 1st to 3rd Jun. 2015. http://canal.camins.upc.edu/index.php/noticia/show/54c0c7e3cbf0c3.25907592
- 1st International Conference on Energy Geotechnics. (ICEGT-2016) Kiel, Germany, from 29th to 31st Aug. 2016. http://www.iceg-2016.de/
- Symposium on “Energy Geotechnics”, SEG-2018. Lausanne, Switzerland, 25th to 28th September. 2018. https://seg2018.epfl.ch/
- 2nd International Conference on Energy Geotechnics. (ICEGT-2020), La Jolla, CA 20-23 September, 2020. http://icegt-2020.org
Two different types of Task Forces are assisting the TC308 activities: i) technical task forces; and ii) professional task forces.
Technical Task Forces
This task force category focused on the technical activities related to applications in the area of Energy Geotechnics and fundamentals. The following technical task forces have been initially identified. Task forces 1) and 2) are mainly associated with energy production; task forces 3) and 4) with energy conversion and storage; and task forces 5) and 6) with storage of highly pollutant waste from the energy sector and CO2. Task force 7 is associated with others geo-energy activities not contemplated in the previous task forces. Task force 8 focusses on fundaments of geo-energy and Task force 9 on low-carbon geotechnical engineering. A brief description of each task force is introduced as follows.
T-1) Hydrate Bearing Sediments (Task leader: Sheng Dai)
Methane hydrate, molecules of natural gas trapped in an ice-like cage of water molecules, represents a potentially vast methane resource. Recent discoveries of methane hydrate in arctic and deep-water marine environments have highlighted the need for a better understanding of this substance as a natural storehouse of carbon and a potential energy resource. Methane hydrate deposits can also lead to large-scale submarine slope failures, blowouts, platform foundation failures, and borehole instability. The understanding of hydrate bearing sediments has advanced steadily over the past decade with coring and field production tests. Experimental, modeling, and field studies are underway to advance our understanding of this fascinating resource. Despite the widespread recognition of the importance of naturally occurring gas hydrates, the understanding of the fundamental hydro-thermo-chemo-geomechanical coupled processes associated with gas hydrate formation and hydrate dissociation in porous sediments remains in its infancy.
T-2) Unconventional Hydrocarbon. Hydraulic Fracturing (Task leader: Ingrid Tomac)
Hydraulic fracturing is a technique for enhancing permeability of oil, gas and geothermal reservoirs. Rock mass permeability increase by forming new fractures or hydro-shearing existing fractures boosts production from the geological formation. Geomechanics of hydraulic fracturing of deep, often hot geological formations with complex across-scale fracture systems and various in-situ stress fields requires development of new approaches. Coupled hydro-thermo-chemo-mechanical processes occur across temporal and spatial scales and govern hydraulic fracturing outcomes and long-term hydrocarbon and geothermal production. Hydraulic fracturing processes accompany multi-phase flow and transport of gaseous, aqueous and solid (proppants) phases. In-spite of recent petroleum industry developments in hydrocarbon fracturing and proppant flow and transport fields, geomechanics of geomaterials, applicability of fracture mechanics theories under complex deep underground conditions and multi-physics of dense-phase solid-fluid slurry flow and transports are still poorly understood. Strongly coupled problems bring unprecedented challenges to the geomechanics community.
T-3) Energy Geo-Structure and Storage of Thermal Energy in the Ground (Task leader: Fleur Loverige)
Energy geo-structures such as thermal piles, diaphragm walls and tunnels can utilize the ground for heating and cooling of structures. These thermo-active elements in contact with the ground can be used as pathways to extract heat in the winter and inject heat in the summer. Therefore ground-source heat exchange can help in balancing the heat energy demand over seasons and also help in maintaining a better energy management between structures with different energy demand profiles. The use of deep foundation elements as heat exchangers presents unique challenges for the broader geotechnical engineering profession. The processes that govern the heat exchange behavior can affect the load transfer mechanisms of these deep foundation elements. There is need to synthesize various thermal pile design guidelines available in different countries. There are also opportunities for using heat in these applications to improve the behavior of some types of soils. Opportunities for storage of heat obtained from renewable resources (solar thermal, fuel cells, etc.) in soils and borehole arrays are another important area of future research. This coupling necessitates a broad understanding of thermal and mechanical processes. These complex phenomena relate to thermal soil behavior and temperature induced soil-structure interaction.
T-4) Energy Geo-storage (Task leader: Frank Wuttke)
The increasing energy demand, current dependency on fossil fuels, and climate implications have led to an accelerated growth in renewable energy resources. The inherent fluctuating nature of renewable sources will create an unprecedented demand for large-capacity energy storage systems. Energy geo-storage will involve deep large-scale systems (i.e., multi-scale, from building scale to city scale), a large number of cycles (daily fluctuations and long-duration infrastructure), and multi-physics (hydro-thermo-chemo-mechanical processes). Most promising large-scale storages of high energy quantity are related to geo-systems. The research in geo-energy storage systems are urgently needed and has to be enforced in the geotechnical society to prospect the basics, to overcome the limits and problems and to consolidate the opportunities from the geotechnical point of view. The general and in particular the scientific knowledge is still low in that research field, but with the huge economical need the research will significant increase in future.
T-5) High Level Radioactive Waste Disposal (Task leader: Antonio Gens).
Deep geological disposal is one of most favored solutions for the isolation of high level nuclear waste. It is also the one that requires major geotechnical input. The natural (host rock) and engineered barriers (generally made up of swelling clays) will be subjected to simultaneous thermal, hydraulic and mechanical (THM) phenomena triggered by the heat-emitting nature of the nuclear waste, the swelling character of the unsaturated clay barrier, and the highly confined conditions of the isolation system. The THM processes described above and their mutual interactions will control the evolution and long term response of the whole isolation system; therefore a good understanding of the main THM phenomena are required for a safe design of HLW repositories. The introduction of new types of heterogeneous pellet-based engineered barriers and the migration of designs towards higher temperatures provide fresh challenges to geotechnical engineering in a multi-physics context.
T-6) Carbon Dioxide Geological Storage (Task leader: Jean-Michel Pereira)
CO2 capture and geological storage is considered as one of the most promising technologies to CO2 emissions into the atmosphere and thus mitigates greenhouse gases effects on global warming. For efficiency reasons, this fluid has to be injected deep enough (typically below 1000m deep) to reach a supercritical state and in host rocks having good properties in terms of injectivity and available porosity. The scientific issues to be tackled involve, fluids flow problem and reactive transport issues associated with the chemical activity of CO2 in contact with water (studied by mostly geochemists) but the mechanical aspects (e.g. fault reactivation, chemical degradation of the rocks, pressure changes, including drying of rocks, cap rock behavior) cannot be disregarded. This is where the expertise of geotechnical engineers working on geomechanical issues related to chemo-thermo-hydro-mechanical couplings would make a real difference. Our society thus can (and has to) significantly contribute to this field.
T-7) Others geotechnical activities related to the energy sector (Task leader: Giovanna Biscontin)
This task force is related to other activities in the energy sector in which geotechnical engineers are involved and not contemplated in the task forces mentioned above, among others: oil sands, foundations of oil pipelines, geotechnical issues related to wind farm and tidal energy, embodied energy of geotechnical infrastructure, geo-mechanical stability of oil reservoir, mid-depth enhanced geothermal systems.
T-8) Fundamentals of Geo-Energy (Task leader: Tomasz Hueckel)
A common theme for the all tasks listed above is that soils and rocks involved in those problems are subjected to strongly coupled THM and chemical (C) interactions. The study of the phenomena associated with the different physics and they mutual interactions will be the main focus of this task force. The interest is on advancing current knowledge on the THMC behavior of soils and rocks integrating fundamental, experimental and numerical studies.
T-9) Low-carbon geotechnical engineering (Task leader: Alessandro Tarantino)
The construction sector is one of the main sectors responsible for carbon emissions and accounts for 10% of the carbon footprint globally. Energy and environmental issues are increasingly becoming key factors in market competition. As a result, technological innovation aimed at reducing carbon emissions can be viewed as a major strategy to boost competitiveness of the construction industry. The geotechnical construction industry is a major component of the overall construction sector and is strategically important in infrastructure development (transportation, flood and landslide protection, building foundations, waste disposal). Industry and Research in the construction sector have been investing significantly in recent years to produce innovative low-carbon technologies. However, little innovation has been created in the geo-infrastructure industry, which is lagging behind other construction industry sectors. This Task Force will promote novel low-carbon design concepts, which may include eco-reinforced geomaterials, binders ‘recycled’ from waste, suction-reinforced geo-structures, ‘engineered’ vegetated and bare ground-atmosphere interfaces, shallow geothermal energy, and shallow soil carbon sequestration.
Professional Task Forces
This category groups other task forces that are instrumental to achieve the TC308 objectives and to accomplish its mission.
P-1) Public Outreach (Task leader: John McCartney)
Many of the technologies within the area of energy geotechnics are relatively new so their advantages, risks, and technical details are not well known by the general public, investors, or policy makers. This may affect the wider implementation of these technologies into practice, even when they may be economically and technically feasible. A challenge for this task force is to communicate the activities of the technical committee to target audiences with various levels of technical understanding, such as academic or government researchers, students, geotechnical engineering practitioners, policy makers, and the general public. The goal of this task force is to use social media, web databases, popular press magazine articles, press statements, and annual bulletins to share technical details, scientific information, and success stories relevant to the technical committee. Another goal will be to develop educational material that can be used in university courses to convey different energy geotechnics topics to undergraduate and graduate students. A final goal will be to serve as a repository of information needed to host international conferences held under the auspices of the technical committee.
P-2) Young Member (Task leader: Tugce Baser)
Young Member Task Force (YMTF) is formed within the TC308 Energy Geotechnics targeting to encourage the involvement of young members as well as students and actively engage them with the committee activities. Although Energy Geotechnics is relatively young in our profession, increasing awareness and significant work that has been done to provide solutions on sustainable energy resources and their management attract especially young members of the community. Because the new generation of geotechnical engineers are the future problem solvers and critical thinkers, developing motivation among young member population is crucial and the task force holds a key role in securing the long-term vision and future of TC308. Therefore, the YMTF strategically identified goals and objectives are to: (1) increase new and young membership within TC 308, (2) actively manage YM participation at all levels within the TC308 activities and events in all regions, (3) facilitate the creation of new activities, (4) connect young members with trendsetters and leaders in the community, (5) increase the awareness of the numerous opportunities to YM, and (6) enhance the participation of YMs within TC 308 through leadership, practice development, and networking opportunities. The YMTF aims to facilitate the development and growth of TC308.
P-3) Awards (Task leader: Guillermo A. Narsilio)
This task force cut across all others in the TC308 Energy Geotechnics and in particular complements and supports the activities of the “Public Outreach” and “Young Member” Task Forces. This new task force will have as a first goal to establish awards and mechanisms to recognize those ISSMGE members who have made important contributions to Energy Geotechnics. A second goal include the promotion of such awards within the TC’s sponsored events to not only raise the profile of awardees but of Energy Geotechnics within the ISSMGE and society at large. This includes coordinating “Outstanding Technical Committee” submissions to ISSMGE and supporting TC308’s members in nominating for ISSMGE awards. A third and final goal, perhaps more challenging and longer term, is to establish endowments to assist i) young members ii) female colleagues, and iii) colleague from developing countries with awards to attend and present at selected international events.
P-4) Academia-Industry Partnership for Innovation in Energy Geotechnics (Task leader: Alessandro F. Rotta Loria)
In recent decades, a substantial amount of scientific research has been developed to increase the knowledge about geosystems that involve the harvesting and/or storage of energy through the ground. Increasing technical advances and applications have also been developed to foster the diffusion of the previous systems and to serve human activity needs. The previous activities, which inherently characterize the science and engineering of Energy Geotechnics, are under continuous progress and can revolutionize the fields of civil engineering, energy engineering, mechanical engineering, architecture, urban planning, and beyond. However, they are often restrained by a mutual limited access of results, discoveries and needs between academia and industry. The mission of this Task Force is to establish a prominent partnership between academia and industry to bridge the gap between the considered fields and to foster scientific discovery, engineering innovation, technology transfer, advanced professional training, financial support, and the exchange of common visions and needs in the scope of Energy Geotechnics.