Descramble, the European project coordinated by Enel Green Power, gathers researchers from Italy, Germany and Norway engaged in testing solutions and technologies for the treatment of water in ‘supercritical’ conditions, with pressure values 218 times higher than those on the surface and subject to a temperature of around 374°C.
Italy, Germany and Norway have joined together to lead Europe's geothermal power towards the future. This is the Descramble project, funded by the EU, which has chosen Larderello (Italy) to push the oldest renewable technology towards a new frontier.
The International research team, coordinated by Enel Green Power, is developing the project, which demonstrates that geothermal plants can operate by extracting water at 'supercritical' conditions, with pressure values 218 times higher than those on the surface and subject to a temperature of around 374°C.
The main aim of the project is to develop technologies for the drilling and extraction of this 'supercritical water', allowing geothermal plants to reduce the number of wells required for each electricity generation unit and therefore saving costs and strengthening sector competitiveness.
Thanks to these innovative technologies, Descramble attempts to reach 3 to 3.5 km under the earth's surface, where the extreme environmental conditions turn water into a 'supercritical' state, that is, a physical condition in which a number of typical properties of the liquid state are found alongside others typical of the gaseous state. Such absolutely unique conditions multiply the energy potential of water by ten.
The EU's investment in the research project - €6.753,635 co-funding over a total cost of €15,615,955 – is part of the EU's 7th Framework Programme. Descramble is one of the initiatives aimed at increasing the use of renewables and reduce Europe's dependence on imported fossil fuels.