Geo40 was established in 2010 to develop technologies for the extraction of minerals from geothermal fluid that has been used to generate electricity. After operating successful pilot plant operations to produce colloidal silica at four geothermal fields at Wairakei (NZ), Kawerau (NZ), Ohaaki (NZ) and Kakkonda (Japan), Geo40 then commissioned its first commercial plant at Contact Energy’s Ohaaki (NZ) geothermal site.
Geo40’s extraction and processing equipment removes silica from the geothermal fluids (after the generation of electricity) and creates colloids in the range of 6 – 14 nanometres with a concentration of 15 – 40% silica by weight. Three provisional patents have been filed covering all Geo40 developments over the last five years, creating a robust Intellectual Property platform.
Geothermal electricity generation is growing as a renewable base-load energy resource, but the presence of dissolved silica in geothermal fluids can be a limiting and costly issue for the power plant.
Geo40’s proven proprietary extraction technology can assist operators to provide them with lower capex and opex through reduced silica scaling in the plant and reinjection wells, and also provides the potential for additional electricity generation.
Geo40’s business model is to work with geothermal power generators and set-up silica and other minerals extraction plants on the geothermal fluid prior to reinjection. The extracted silica is further processed into specialty silica products such as colloidal silica, silica gel and precipitated silica and sold by Geo40 on the international markets. In the plant the processed reinjection fluid, which is now largely free of silica, can be used to extract further minerals and generate further power through conventional bottoming plants prior to reinjection.More Information
Other Specialty Silica Products
The global market for specialty precipitated silica is over four times the size of the market for colloidal silica. One of the fastest growing markets is as an additive to latex rubber including in new fuel efficient tyres. Geo40 is carrying out development work to produce environmentally green precipitated silica from its colloidal silica products for use as an additive to latex rubber.
Silica gels are used for a range of applications and can be produced from Geo40’s colloidal silica. Geo40 is working on a range of silica gel products made from environmentally friendly geothermal silica.
In Japan, Geo40 was part of a consortium, funded by the Japanese government, to demonstrate the Geo40 technology. This work has been successfully completed and Geo40 is working with the Geothermal Energy Research and Development Organisation to target development opportunities in Japan.
Other Minerals for Extraction (Lithium and Boron)
Geothermal fluid is rich in a range of other minerals such as lithium and boron. Historically the extraction of these minerals has been difficult and often uneconomic due to the cost of removing silica prior to the extraction of other minerals. Geo40’s process cost effectively removes silica opening up the opportunity to extract other valuable minerals. Geo40 is working on “bolt-on” processes to the silica extraction process that extract other minerals from the geothermal fluid, post silica extraction.