Will Nano Traps Make Geothermal Power Earthquake-Safe?
Scientific American (07/20/09) Borrell, Brendan Earth’s molten mantle could hold up to 10 percent of our energy requirements, but cost and safety concerns have blocked the growth of geothermal energy. Traditional geothermal power plants tap into hot springs beneath the Earth’s surface, but this method can be dangerous and can cause earthquakes. The Swiss government and California firm AltaRock Energy have both stopped work on geothermal plants because they resulted in violent tremors. Cooler hot springs are more abundant and closer to the surface, so the risk of drilling with deep faults that cause earthquakes is slim. Unfortunately, they release less energy, and are therefore less efficient. Recently, researchers announced an easier way to use safer, low-temperature geothermal resources using nanotechnology. Environmental engineer Peter McGrail and his team at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that they could increase the heat-storing capacity