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Mon Nov 15, 2021, 02:39 PM

Drilling for 'white gold' is happening right now at the Salton Sea

Barely a mile from the southern shore of the Salton Sea an accidental lake deep in the California desert, a place best known for dust and decay a massive drill rig stands sentinel over some of the most closely watched ground in American energy.

There's no oil or natural gas here, despite a cluster of Halliburton cement tanks and the hum of a generator slowly pushing a drill bit through thousands of feet of underground rock. Instead, an Australian company is preparing to tap a buried reservoir of salty, superheated water to produce renewable energy and lithium, a crucial ingredient in electric car batteries.

The $500-million project is finally getting started after years of hype and headlines about the Imperial Valley someday becoming a powerhouse in the fight against climate change. The developer, Controlled Thermal Resources, began drilling its first lithium and geothermal power production well this month, backed by millions of dollars from investors including General Motors.

If the "Hell's Kitchen" project succeeds still a big "if" it will be just the second commercial lithium producer in the United States. It will also generate clean electricity around the clock, unlike solar and wind farms that depend on the weather and time of day.


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Reply Drilling for 'white gold' is happening right now at the Salton Sea (Original post)
Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin Nov 15 OP
Hortensis Nov 15 #1

Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Mon Nov 15, 2021, 02:53 PM

1. "Energy companies drill down and bring the superheated water to the surface,

where the drop in pressure causes it to "flash" from a liquid to a gas, creating bursts of steam that can turn turbines and generate electricity. ... the brine is injected back underground, replenishing the reservoir. The main byproduct is water vapor.

The technology is expensive, and for years development had ground to a halt. But now California is swimming in cheap solar and wind power, and officials are scrambling for clean-energy resources that can be counted on 24/7 ... The Imperial Irrigation District, meanwhile, has agreed to buy most of the 50 megawatts of power that Controlled Thermal would initially generate.

Still, the Hell's Kitchen project might not have reached this stage without booming demand for lithium-ion batteries. ...

To be clear, Controlled Thermal still has obstacles to overcome. ... environmental analysis from Imperial County ... Perhaps most important General Motors or another party to sign a formal agreement to buy the lithium ... "Believe me, GM did their homework."

Not all there yet, but it's happening.

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