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Energy Department Announces First-of-its-Kind, High-Temperature, Downhole Rechargeable Energy Storage Device

July 2, 2014 - 10:50am

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The Energy Department today announced commercialization of a rechargeable energy storage device capable of operating in the extreme temperatures necessary for geothermal energy production. Industry partner FastCAP Systems successfully demonstrated an ultracapacitor that is fully operational in 200°C conditions, extending the upper limit of high-temperature energy storage and electronics, and engineering a flexible system that could reduce cost and risks of geothermal drilling. A $2.2 million Energy Department investment, coupled with $5.5 million in private investment funds yielded this first-of-its-kind product. FastCAP announced this week that their newest ultracapacitor has successfully completed third party validation testing by Sandia National Laboratory. The devices are expected to be released commercially later this year and were developed under a grant from the Department of Energy Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) in 2012. The company plans to increase production capabilities in a newly expanded space in Boston's Innovation District, a thriving center for manufacturing and technology. 

Widespread adoption of geothermal energy production is impeded by the cost of drilling deep wells in very hot formations—one of the greatest cost drivers in geothermal development. FastCAP's innovation targets this challenge: by utilizing a novel combination of downhole energy generation and storage capability, FastCAP's system can generate and store the necessary power for downhole measurements while drilling (MWD), as well as enable communication with the surface. Combining these advancements will yield a complete geothermal downhole power source. The final upper operating temperature goal of the project is 250°C, though FastCAP expects its 200°C ultracapacitor technology to be deployed downhole as early as this year. To learn more about the FastCAP rechargeable energy storage device, click here.

The Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) funds more than 150 geothermal research, development, demonstration, and analysis projects. Follow our progress with the 2013 Peer Review Report or view program achievements in the 2013 Annual Report. Data from this project and other GTO-funded research will be made publicly available via the National Geothermal Data System (NGDS) on an open-source platform. Find out more about this free information tool here. 

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