Geothermal Systems Analysis


Geothermal visual
Image: Philipp Hein

Along with the environmental awareness of the general public, geothermal has increasingly been considered an important renewable energy source. It is well known that the performance of a deep geothermal reservoir is determined by how much heat can be carried out by the circulating fluid in the reservoir. This flow rate is mostly dependent on the size of fracture apertures in the short term, while in the long term the fracture opening is more controlled by fluid-rock geochemical interactions. Also in shallow geothermal systems, the efficiency of Ground Source Heat Pump System (GSHPS) is strongly affected by the coupled fluid flow and heat transport process both inside and around borehole heat exchangers. 

The working group "Geothermal Systems Analysis" conducts their research on the system understanding of both shallow and deep geothermal reservoirs. The research focuses on the quantification of coupled Thermal (T), Hydraulic (H), Mechanic (M) and Chemical (C) processes in the subsurface, which covers all underlying physics of geothermal reservoirs. This research focus is addressed by a strong team of numerical modelers, who work in close cooperation with geophysicists and field engineers. Based on the powerful numerical software OpenGeoSys, this team is capable of establishing, customizing, and calibrating numerical models for various types of geothermal reservoirs. With the accumulated knowledge, the aim of research is to provide suggestions to engineers. 

  • Implementation, validation, and verification of the dual-continuum based model for the simulation and optimization of Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) coupled Borehole Heat Exchangers (BHEs).
  • Coupled T-H-M processes in fractured geothermal systems, with extended Finite Element Method (XFEM).
  • Implementation of soil freezing model, coupling freezing process with deformation.
  • Implementation of component based multiphase model into OGS. Application of the model to simulate thermally coupled multiphase flow processes in high-enthalpy deep geothermal reservoirs.
  • Reactive transport modelling of mineral-water interactions in fractures, focusing on pressure solutions and coupled mechanical effects.

    Haibing Shao Junior-Prof. Dr. Haibing Shao

    Workgroup Leader

    Dr. Haibing Shao is jointly appointed by UFZ and Freiberg University of Mining and Technology (TU Freiberg) as Junior Professor of Geothermal System Analysis. He got his Bachelor degree in 2005 from Tongji University in Shanghai, China. Supported by the IPSWat scholarship from German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), he continued his study in Germany and obtained his Master and PhD degree at Uni Tübingen (2007) and TU Dresden (2010) respectively. After graduation, he worked as a visiting researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in the U.S. Thereafter, he started his career at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ). His research focuses on the numerical modeling of coupled physical processes in fractured and porous media.
    See staff webpage for further information.

    Norihiro Watanabe Dr. Norihiro Watanabe

    Staff Scientist

    Dr. Norihiro Watanabe is a postdoctoral researcher in the department of Environmental Informatics. He studied Civil Engineering and Environmental Science at Okayama University in Japan for his Bachelor and Master degrees, and received his doctoral degree in engineering from Dresden University of Technology in Germany in 2012. His research interest is developing numerical simulation tools (e.g. FEM and XFEM) for coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical-chemical processes in fractured rocks for various geotechnical applications such as deep geothermal systems and underground waste disposals.

    Philipp Hein Philipp Hein

     HTWK Leipzig/UFZ/TU Dresden

    Philipp works on the numerical modeling of shallow geothermal systems. These include borehole heat exchangers (BHE) and ground coupled heat pumps. Efficient and reliable simulation methods are required for process understanding as well as design and optimization of such systems due to the increased use of especially large systems including up to several hundreds of BHEs. Applied research is undertaken on topics like sustainability and efficiency of these systems.

    Yonghui Huang Yonghui Huang

    PhD student, UFZ/TU Dresden

    Yonghui is working on the numerical modeling of the non-isothermal multiphase multicomponent transport process, with emphasis on the consideration of phase transition phenomena. Such process is relevant in deep geothermal reservoirs, where the transition from fluid to vapor must be explicitly considered.



    Renchao Lu Renchao Lu

    PhD student, UFZ/TU Dresden

    Renchao’s research is about the numerical analysis of coupled chemical processes in fractured media. He is simulating the impact of water-rock interactions on the fracture aperture and therefore permeability. His work also serves as our contribution to the international cooperation project DECOVALEX, which provides model benchmark results for the safety assessment of waste repositories.

    Tianyuan Zheng Tianyuan Zheng

    PhD student, UFZ/TU Dresden

    Tianyuan Zheng was awarded a Bachelor's degree from the Ocean University of China in 2011, and a Master's degree from Stuttgart University in Germany in 2014. He joined the UFZ in October 2014 and is currently working on the numerical modelling of thermo-hydro-mechanical processes in freezing porous media with applications to ground source heat pump systems. His interest is the study of the influence of freeze-thaw processes on borehole heat exchangers with respect to thermal efficiency and deformation. Tianyuan is also involved in Environmental Informatics' workgroup "Computational Energy Systems".