The project called Krafla Magma Testbed (KMT) in Iceland aims to drill into the magma chamber of the active Krafla volcano in 2026 to generate geothermal energy . Specialists assure that the technology is safe and does not pose a risk of causing eruptions.
For the past 10 years, this project has worked to harness the high temperatures of the Krafla volcano’s magma chamber for the purpose of generating energy. If the results are positive as anticipated by scientists, this would be the first comprehensive study of volcanic magma and the initial step to establish a new type of geothermal plant capable of supplying large amounts of electricity sustainably and at practically zero cost.
An active volcano as a source of geothermal energy
According to ZME Science, geothermal energy already supplies heat to 90% of homes in Iceland and covers 70% of their electrical needs. However, the Krafla project aims to provide full coverage of the country’s energy demands, taking advantage of an unlimited renewable source.
Inside the magma chamber, temperatures reach 1,300 °C, which means that the water present is not in its conventional vapor form, as is the case in common geothermal power plants. Instead, this is water in a “supercritical” state: a state that is neither liquid, solid, nor gaseous. This leads to literally ten times greater efficiency, as it is estimated that a single magma facility could generate energy up to ten times or more compared to a conventional geothermal plant.
However, the main challenge lies in finding materials capable of resisting the extreme conditions of temperature and pressure present in this environment. Even drilling becomes complicated as the drill bits would melt upon contact with the magma. Despite these challenges, given the enormous economic viability it represents, the inhabitants of Iceland hope to start drilling the first well in 2026.
Use of geothermal energy
Iceland, along with the United States and Kenya, is among the leaders in geothermal energy development. This sustainable and inexhaustible form of energy takes advantage of the high temperatures of geothermal fluids to set in motion turbines that generate electricity.
Despite its benefits, geothermal has not become widespread in more countries due to the difficulty of finding suitable locations to drill at significant depths. Furthermore, the effectiveness of this energy source is limited by the temperature reached by the wells.
While fossil fuel plants generate steam at around 450°C, conventional geothermal fluids only reach around 250°C. However, this situation could be about to change.
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