HR Excellence in research Unia Europejska
HR Excellence in research Unia Europejska

The Geothermal Laboratory

The Geothermal Laboratory

has the oldest geothermal installation in Poland, operating since 1993. In this laboratory, on a large scale, scientific research is carried out on the acquisition and management of geothermal energy and on environmentally friendly technological solutions in this field. Research issues include energy-saving construction in the field of installation systems and devices for the production of electricity and heat, optimization of heat pump technology, as well as technologies for the recovery of the low temperature heat, not used for heating houses and apartments. It is worth emphasizing that the employees of our Institute are precursors of the use of geothermal energy for heating. In this laboratory, pilot installations for cascade heat system and a geothermal water desalination test station were built. Specialist software TOUGH, TOUGHREACT, PetraSim are used in the research, enabling modeling of geothermal deposit, HDR systems and binary systems.

Scope of research and analysis

Extensive research has been carried out for over 30 years at the IGSMiE PAN Geothermal Laboratory in Bańska Niżna, Biały Dunajec. Geothermal concepts and projects were implemented as the first in Poland, and in 1993 the Experimental Geothermal Plant of the Polish Academy of Sciences Bańska – Biały Dunajec was launched. This laboratory specializes in research in the field of:

  • identification of the conditions of water and geothermal energy,
  • designing boreholes (drillings) for geothermal water,
  • supervision and documentation of geological works,
  • optimization of the energy use of geothermal energy in various heating systems,
  • optimization of the environmental effect of geothermal energy management,
  • assessment of water quality and modification of their composition in the context of the use of these waters, including in agriculture, balneotherapy, cosmetology, as drinking water, etc.
  • assessment of barriers to the wide implementation of geothermal energy in heating systems,
  • analysis of legislative and financial support processes for geothermal energy.

Laboratory equipment

The Geothermal Laboratory has a unique geothermal installation, the main elements of which have been in operation since 1990. The Laboratory consists of:

  • Bańska IG-1 borehole enabling the exploitation of geothermal water with a temperature of 82 °C
  • from a depth of 2545-3345 m (exploitation resources amount to 120 m3/h),
  • cascade heat facilities at five levels of its use, operating on the secondary circuit of heating water:
    • heating network and hot water for the laboratory facilities,
    • wood drying room,
    • greenhouse infrastructure,
    • fish farming facility,
    • tunnels for vegetable cultivation (at present, the operation of the last two stages of the thermal cascade is suspended),
  • geothermal water desalination test station, combining water de-ironing using a catalytic bed, ultrafiltration and two independent nanofiltration (reverse osmosis) systems,
  • the system of probes and measuring equipment enabling the performance of field tests in geothermal intakes,
  • professional software – available at the IGSMIE PAN headquarters in Krakow (including, among others, TOUGH2, TOUGHREACT, Petrasim, Visual MODFLOW, AquiferTest, SURFER, Voxler), as well as proprietary tools for mathematical modelling of the conditions and effects of energy systems work.

Results and directions of the use of research works

The research carried out at the Geothermal Laboratory covers a full range of works, from the identification of hydrogeothermal conditions, through access models and drilling works, to the development of documentation enabling the exploitation of the geothermal water deposit. As part of the research, mathematical models of optimal energy use in specific heat conditions are also developed. Licensed specialist software and proprietary IT tools are used in the processing and interpretation of measurement data.

In 2000, the Laboratories also carried out tests and the first in Poland, full reconstruction of the Mszczonów IG-1 borehole operating at Zakład Geotermalny Geotermia Mazowieckiej S.A. Here, scientific and research works are carried out aimed at the comprehensive use of energy and geothermal waters, as well as the promotion of geothermal energy management in the cascade system facilities. The measuring equipment also allows for the full implementation of reservoir tests in geothermal wells with the possibility of remote archiving and processing of measurement data, such as: water stream and temperature at the outflow, as well as the static and dynamic position of the water table. The software is used to model the operation of a geothermal deposit and EGS / HDR systems, as well as the operating conditions of an energy system using geothermal energy. The geothermal water desalination station enables modelling of the physicochemical properties of cooled geothermal water with the recovery of permeate that meets the requirements of drinking water and for economic purposes, and a concentrate with multidirectional management.