Research project for a PhD in Earth Sciences :
Interested in geothermal energy, Professor Jasmin Raymond is conducting research work on low to medium temperature resources, including heat pump systems. The main objective of his projects, done in collaboration with geothermal designers, operators and manufacturers, is to improve the efficiency and profitability of the systems by providing scientific and technological innovations. Field testing and numerical modeling are his main research activities.
Hydrocarbons transported by truck, train and boat are the main source of heat and electricity in the North, a situation that comes at a high financial and environmental cost. Geothermal technologies offer an alternative that can be used to diversify energy sources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This could give rise to new business activities of great benefit to northern communities, such as greenhouse operations for producing fruits and vegetables locally. However, the extent of geothermal resources available in the North is still largely unknown. The region is vast and the thermohydraulic properties characterizing shallow and deep geothermal resources vary greatly. The research chair aims to demonstrate the potential of northern geothermal resources so that this renewable energy source can be developed.
The research will be used to evaluate strategies for reducing hydrocarbon consumption and increasing the productivity of geothermal systems in northern environments to make them more affordable and provide access to clean energy. The strategy for meeting this goal is threefold: 1) Identify northern geological environments with high geothermal potential; 2) Improve the design and operating procedures of northern geothermal systems installed in a permafrost area; 3) Develop technologies to facilitate geothermal development in the North.
The research project focuses on two northern regions with distinct energy supply profiles: mines and villages connected to a distribution system, primarily in the James Bay area; the Aboriginal villages deserved by off-grid systems in northern Québec, mainly in Nunavik. The researchers will assess the state of local geothermal resources, develop hydrogeological and energy models to predict the operating temperatures of potential geothermal systems, develop new modelling strategies to improve the methods used to design heat pumps, improve underground thermal energy storage, and study the impact of permafrost, among others.
The chair seeks to innovate by developing underused geothermal resources and technologies, one of very few local alternatives for continuous heat production. With the acquisition of new knowledge, use of these resources and technologies can be extended to northern Quebec and new simulation approaches can be tested to determine if geothermal technology is a viable alternative in the North.
Analysis of heat transfer processes in environments favorable to geothermal energy
The Canadian government is looking toward a voluntary decrease of CO2 emissions to mitigate climate change. Without binding targets, improving the carbon balance requires technological innovations to gradually replace fossil fuels when energy alternatives become profitable. This is the case of geothermal energy, a sustainable resource originating from the Earth. Mainly used to heat building and to produce electricity, geothermal systems have a low carbon footprint. Their installation cost is however important, both for heat pump of buildings and electric power plants. Boreholes required during installation are the item making geothermal energy an expensive venture enclosing technological risks. Such cost can be minimized with the identification of geological environments where thermal properties are better suited. The objective of this research program is to improve, with the use of novel technologies, methods used to evaluate thermal processes for a more accurate assessment of shallow and deep geothermal resources potential. Results will contribute to optimize the design of geothermal systems to decrease technological risks. An integrated approach, enclosing field and laboratory work coupled with numerical simulations, will be implemented to fulfill the objective of the proposed research.
Specific objectives : 1) In situ measurement tools used for subsurface thermal properties will be improved by combining the thermal response test with heating sections to accurate temperature profiling. Such tests will be performed in ground heat exchangers of superficial systems and exploration boreholes used to assess deep resources. 2) Data analysis conducted with numerical simulations, taking into account the heterogeneity of geological materials and the impact of groundwater flow, will allow a better understanding of geological settings favorable to geothermal energy. The Earth’s heat flux density, poorly constrained in the south of Quebec but necessary to develop deep geothermal power plants, will further be assessed with modeling of field observations. 4) The in situ thermal profiling will then be validated with laboratory measurements performed on samples. Analysis will be carried out with X-ray and infrared scanners, two modern techniques that have never been combined in the scope of geothermal studies and which will help to recalculate thermal properties according to conditions that can prevail in the subsurface.
Research work will be realized in the St. Lawrence Lowlands and the Appalachians, to the benefit of the population living in these two regions. Aspects in favor of geothermal development are the geological settings and the population density.
Funding: NSERC - Discovery Grant
Potential of geothermal energy resources and technologies to provide energy to northern mines
The mining industry in northern Quebec is dynamic and contributes to the economy of the province. However, energy costs in the North are high. Transporting and burning fossil fuels in these isolated regions have a considerable environmental impact. Among available alternatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, geothermal energy is the only one that can produce energy on a continuous basis to be used to heat or air-condition buildings and underground galleries and to produce electricity. The objective of this research project is to evaluate the potential of geothermal resources and technologies to fulfill northern mines heat and electricity demands. On the short term, geothermal heat pumps used during mine dewatering operations could provide heat. On the longer term, deep geothermal resources could produce heat that can be used directly or be converted into electricity.
The project has two research axes, one in geology and the other in mechanical engineering. The objective of the first axis is the development of resources, and that of the second is technological improvement. Geothermal resources and technologies available for active and prospective mines will be inventoried in this project. Hydrogeological and energy simulations will help evaluate resource sustainability and anticipate energy savings for the selected mine sites. This project will bring the fundamental knowledge required to adapt geothermal technologies to northern mine sites. The goal is to demonstrate the effectiveness of innovatively using geothermal resources to save energy. The project is in partneship with major energy and mining companies, Hydro-Québec, Hatch, and Goldcorp-Éléonore. Their interest lies in the development of cost-effective energy solutions for their customers or their own operations. The project will contribute to a diversification of energy sources available to northern mines, reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, and changing practices within the mining industry. Training of highly qualified personnel to apply the developed solutions is also a priority.
International France-Québec Associated Laboratory - Exploitation of deep resources and protection of surface resources: links between science and decisions (collaboration to a project lead by René Lefebvre from INRS)
Geothermal response test with a low power source (collaboration to a project lead by Louis Lamarche from ÉTS)
This project is a continuation of my postdoctoral research which led to the development of a new technology for in situ thermal conductivity testing: the thermal response test (TRT) with heating cables. Work is carried out at the Centre de technologie thermique of École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), where technologies such as heat pumps are being evaluated, and at the Centre Eau Terre Environnement of INRS. Marketing of the technology is done by Valeo Management. The project’s objective is to develop an improved prototype for thermal conductivity tests with heating sections installed in geothermal heat exchangers. The technology improvements will be tested in collaboration with companies that offer thermal conductivity test services. The project comprises a validation of the technology by numerical modeling and small-scale laboratory experiments, both of which will be done at ÉTS. Adaptations to the different types of heat exchangers with U-shaped or concentric pipes are planned. A second prototype will be built based on these improvements and tested in full size ground heat exchangers. I will be in charge of this field validation.
Funding: NSERC – Idea to Innovation Program
Collaborator: Louis Lamarche (ÉTS)
Deep geothermal energy potential in Quebec (collaboration to a project lead by Michel Malo from INRS)
Research program aimed at developing the deep geothermal energy sector for power production. Heat can be extracted from bedrock with deep wells and used to continuously generate renewable electricity without greenhouse gas emission. The objectives of this research program are: 1) to determine the geothermal energy potential in Quebec, 2) to develop and test the capacities for geothermal energy exploitation at potential sites, 3) to identify the conditions for commercial exploitation of geothermal energy in Québec. This program is the first step towards pilot geothermal energy production in Quebec which could be carried out in partnership with the private sector. Research activities of this program include 4 components: 1) geological exploration and evaluation of the resources, 2) reservoir engineering and simulation of exploitation, 3) analysis of energy production infrastructure and of operation costs, and 4) social and environmental impacts. Geological exploration will allow identification of regions of interest for deep geothermal energy production and to select potential sites according to their geological, geophysical, and geochemical characteristics. Some sites will be characterized in more details in order to model geothermal reservoirs and electricity production. The third component includes a techno-economic evaluation of geothermal electricity production types, choice of the infrastructure according to specific characteristics of the selected sites, integration assessment of geothermal power plants to the existing grid, and a cost-benefit analysis of geothermal energy production. Finally, surveys will be carried out to determine the impacts on economic development, job creation, land occupancy, ecosystems and human health. Expected results for this project are a reduction of technological risks, a better identification and use of geothermal energy resources for clean and profitable power production in Quebec that can eventually reduce commercial exploitation costs.
Funding: FRQNT – Initiatives stratégiques pour l’innovation
Collaborators: Michel Malo (INRS) and 15 others
B.Sc., Geology, McGill University
M.Sc., Hydrogeology, Laval University
Ph.D., Hydrogeology, Laval University
Postdoctoral research, Thermal Engineering, École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS)
Postdoctoral research, Geothermal Energy, INRS - Centre Eau Terre Environnement
Dr. Raymond is a hydrogeologist and he teaches geothermal energy basics at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique in Quebec City. He obtained his Ph.D. at Laval University and a B.Sc. at McGill University. During his young career, he has received numerous awards such as a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship. He currently holds a research chair from the Institut nordique du Québec to investigate the geothermal potential of northern communities and mines in addition to be coleader of an international research group on geothermal energy supported by UNESCO. Highly involved in the scientific community, he participates in a task group of the Canadian Standard Association on geothermal heat pumps and the geothermal advisory committee of Geoscience BC. He has coauthored a report from the Geological Survey of Canada on the geothermal potential of the country and has been awarded the Canadian Geotechnical Society Colloquium to complete a Canadian lecture tour during 2016-2017.
Technical expert, Geoscience BC, Geothermal Technical Advisory Committee (2015-now)
Technical expert, Committee for the creation of a bi-national American–Canadian standard for the design and installation of Earth energy systems with the Canadian Standards Association (2013-now)
Board of directors, Canadian Geothermal Research Council (2011-now)
Technical expert, Committee for improvement of CSA-C448 Design and Installation of Earth Energy Systems with the Canadian Standards Association (2011-2013)
Active member of professional organizations: Canadian National Chapter, International Association of Hydrogeologists; Canadian Geothermal Research Council; Canadian GeoExchange Coalition; Ordre des géologues du Québec; Canadian Geotechnical Society.
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