Enhanced Energy Recovery from Geothermal Resources and Clean Water Protection
CaSil Technologies Ltd (CaSilTech) was founded in 2022 by Professor Jim Johnston (CEO and Director), Dr Thomas Borrmann (CSO), Dr Michael Schweig CTO) (Victoria University of Wellington) and Sir Neville Jordan (Board Chair), to commercialise a new, world-leading technology (CaSil technology). Dr Putri Fraser (Product Lead) joined the team later. The CaSil technology enables significantly more heat energy to be recovered from hot geothermal water and electricity to be generated than is hitherto possible. This is achieved by eliminating the world-wide problem of silica deposition as an intractable sinter that blocks pipes, heat exchangers and reinjection wells, thereby significantly reducing the extent to which the hot water can be cooled and the amount of heat energy that can be recovered and electricity generated accordingly.
CaSil Technologies achieves this through the research and development of an innovative approach to capture the dissolved silica before it can deposit, as a proprietary nanostructured calcium silicate material (CaSil product) which does not adhere to metal surfaces. The CaSil product desirably flows cleanly through the pipework and heat exchangers and is separated continuously as valuable product, that has a number of environmentally beneficial applications. The treated water can be reinjected without blocking reinjection wells.
The technology has been demonstrated and field proven at automated pilot plant scale operation at the Wairakei and Kawerau geothermal resources. The pilot plant is currently being installed at the Mokai resource. The CaSil product is being used in smart environmentally beneficial applications which prevent nutrient run-off to surface waters in the agriculture and horticulture industries, and in recovering and concentrating dissolved metals from industry and mining waste streams, thereby preserving and protecting water quality.
CaSilTech is working closely with a number of major New Zealand geothermal resource owners and operators in the implementation pathway and commercialisation of the CaSil technology, and also with companies interested in the environmentally beneficial CaSil product and its applications. International commercialisation will follow.
Jim is a Founding Principal Investigator of the NZ Product Accelerator which has recognised the substantial economic and environmental benefits of the technology and the CaSil products and applications, and has opened up particular industry linkages.
The world-first CaSil technology and Casil product applications will make a positive impact in addressing Climate Change mitigation and Clean Water preservation and protection.
Geothermal energy is a natural, sustainable non-fossil fuel resource available 24/7 and used primarily for base load electricity generation in New Zealand. For some resources, the heat energy is also used for direct heating in industrial applications such as pulp drying in Kawerau and Milk Powder manufacture at Miraka, Mokai. Geothermal energy presently provides about 20% of the country’s electricity generation capacity. With new resources being developed this can likely be doubled in future years. Following hydro, geothermal energy is the next largest non fossil-fuel, renewable energy resource used for electricity generation. However, with the current industry approach, this is compromised by problematic silica deposition. The CaSil technology eliminates this problem and unlocks the full energy potential of the geothermal resource, that is hitherto not currently accessible. Significantly more heat energy is made available from the same hot water flow for consumer and industry heating to replace coal and natural gas, and for electricity generation.
The unique CaSil product and its environmentally beneficial applications, provide new approaches to sustainable agriculture and horticulture farming practices, and treating waste streams to preserve and protect water quality.
The CaSil technology and CaSil product applications provide a new pathway to:
• Contribute to Climate Change mitigation and clean water preservation and protection.
• Utilise New Zealand and international geothermal resources more effectively and efficiently through enabling the recovery of more heat energy for direct industry and consumer heating, and electricity generation, that replaces coal and natural gas.
• Transform plant nutrient management in agriculture and horticulture farming practices, and recover valuable metals from industrial waste streams to preserve and protect surface water quality.
• Open up new business and employment opportunities in New Zealand and internationally.