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Hot Dry Rock Geothermal Energy Technology (USA)

The technology to mine the heat from the hot rock found almost everywhere at some depth beneath the surface of the earth was conceived and developed at Los Alamos. Conceptually, hot dry rock (HDR) heat mining is quite simple.

The key element in successful heat mining is the development of an engineered geothermal reservoir in a hot body, impermeable rock. The point in a hot rock body at which an HDR reservoir is created is determined by the selection of the location on the surface from which the injection well is drilled and the depth within the wellbore at which the water is injected into the hot rock, while the overall size of the reservoir is a direct function of the total amount of water pumped into the rock during its development. Although these parameters can be engineered, the shape, orientation, and internal structure of the reservoir, are entirely functions of the local geologic conditions and are, at present, beyond human control. For this reason, it is important to understand the local geology before attempting to develop an HDR reservoir.

As an HDR reservoir is being formed, rock blocks are moved very slightly by the injected water. These small movements give rise to low frequency stress waves similar to, but much smaller than, those caused by earthquakes. Microseismic technology has been developed to identify these signals and locate their points of origin. The data from many such signals provide a picture of the size, shape, and orientation of the reservoir. With this information in hand, production wells can be drilled into the reservoir to most efficiently tap the superheated water that has been injected.

For more information, contact:

U.S. DOE Programs
Director, Geothermal Group Division
Allan Jelacic, E-mail:

Enhanced Geothermal Systems
Paul Grabowski, E-mail:

Los Alamos Group EES-4
HDR - General Information
Contact: James Albright, E-mail:

Los Alamos Group EES-1
HDR Resource Identificiation and Verification
Contact: Grant Heiken, E-mail:

Princeton Economic Research, Inc. (PERI)
Enhanced Geothermal Systems
Contact: Lynn McLarty, E-mail:

Kansas State Univesity
Geothermal Reservoir Modeling
Contact: Daniel Swenson, E-mail:

The Massachussetts Institute of Technology
HDR Economic Studies
Contact: Jefferson Tester, E-mail: testerel@MIT.EDU; Howard Herzog, E-mail: hjherzog@MIT.EDU

Sector: Renewable Energy Technologies
Country: India
Area of Application: Geothermal energy
Keywords: Geothermal, Energy technology
Environmental aspects: Not Applicable
Development Status: LaboratoryModel
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Your Contact Details:
Contact Person: UN-ESCAP/APCTT
Address: C-2 Qutab Institutional Area
City: New Delhi
Country: India
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