CRM-geothermal EU-funded project
Start date: 1 July 2022 - End date: 30 June 2026
The EU-funded CRM-geothermal project proposes to combine the extraction of raw materials and geothermal heat, a renewable energy resource from the ground that is available 24 hours a day.
DEUTSCHES GEOFORSCHUNGSZENTRUM GFZ – HELMHOLTZ-ZENTRUM POTSDAM (Germany)
The energy and digital transitions require a large amount of mineral raw materials, some of which are considered ‘critical’ by the European Union. These Critical Raw Materials (CRM) are predominantly imported from non-European countries where environmental and ethical standards may be less strict than in the EU. However, the EU has largely untapped resources at its disposal in geothermal fluids, some of which contain significant amounts of CRMs.
The EU-funded CRM-geothermal project therefore proposes to combine the extraction of mineral raw materials and geothermal heat, a renewable energy resource from the ground that is available 24 hours per day. The technology solution developed by CRM-geothermal will thus help Europe fulfil the strategic objectives of the EU Green Deal and the Agenda for Sustainable Development while reducing dependency on imported CRM.
Although CRM are known to occur in geothermal fluids, there are still many uncertainties concerning their occurrence in different geological settings and the sustainability of their extraction. The actual extraction process is also a major challenge requiring technology development.
Hence, the CRM-geothermal project has the following objectives:
• Establish an overview of the potential for raw materials in geothermal fluids for a large range of CRM elements across the EU and third countries
• Determine the source of selected CRM, their mobility and potential for sustained extraction from geothermal brines
• Develop and optimise innovative extraction technologies for selected CRM from geothermal brines that can form a business case for new EU SMEs
• Assess the environmental-social-economic viability, create transparent and traceable value chains, and foster ethical sourcing of CRM
• Demonstrate at a pilot site the extraction technology for at least one CRM in field at the scale of a miniplant and evaluate the total sustainability of system