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Fuels from Magma—Potential Energy Resource?1

T. M. Gerlach
T. M. Gerlach
Sandia Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185.
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January 01, 1981


The scientific feasibility of generating fuels (H2, CO, and CH4) from buried magma sources is being examined as part of the Magma Energy Research Project at Sandia Laboratories, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy/Division of Basic Energy Science. Thermodynamic calculations and experimental studies indicate that fluids containing up to 3 mole % H2 result from the interaction of water with hot basaltic glass or magma. The cumulative H2 potentially recoverable per cubic kilometer of basalt is on the order of 2 trillion g—approximately 20% of the total 1975 United States hydrogen consumption.

Addition of organic matter to the injected fluid considerably enhances fuel production and allows fuel generation directly using magma or hot rock as a source of thermal energy only. For example, mixtures containing 10 wt. % cellulose (C6H10O5) form 5 to 15 mole % H2, CO, and CH4 depending on temperature.

The properties of hot basaltic rocks and magmas in midocean ridge environments offer the most favorable conditions for magmatic fuel production.

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AAPG Studies in Geology

Energy Resources of the Pacific Region

Michel T. Halbouty
Michel T. Halbouty
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American Association of Petroleum Geologists
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Publication date:
January 01, 1981




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