A suite of benchmark and challenge problems for enhanced geothermal systems

Mark White, Pengcheng Fu, Mark McClure, George Danko, Derek Elsworth, Eric Sonnenthal, Sharad Kelkar, Robert Podgorney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


A diverse suite of numerical simulators is currently being applied to predict or understand the performance of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS). To build confidence and identify critical development needs for these analytical tools, the United States Department of Energy, Geothermal Technologies Office sponsored a Code Comparison Study (GTO-CCS), with participants from universities, industry, and national laboratories. A principal objective for the study was to create a community forum for improvement and verification of numerical simulators for EGS modeling. Teams participating in the study were those representing U.S. national laboratories, universities, and industries, and each team brought unique numerical simulation capabilities to bear on the problems. Two classes of problems were developed during the study, benchmark problems and challenge problems. The benchmark problems were structured to test the ability of the collection of numerical simulators to solve various combinations of coupled thermal, hydrologic, geomechanical, and geochemical processes. This class of problems was strictly defined in terms of properties, driving forces, initial conditions, and boundary conditions. The challenge problems were based on the enhanced geothermal systems research conducted at Fenton Hill, near Los Alamos, New Mexico, between 1974 and 1995. The problems involved two phases of research, stimulation, development, and circulation in two separate reservoirs. The challenge problems had specific questions to be answered via numerical simulation in three topical areas: (1) reservoir creation/stimulation, (2) reactive and passive transport, and (3) thermal recovery. Whereas the benchmark class of problems were designed to test capabilities for modeling coupled processes under strictly specified conditions, the stated objective for the challenge class of problems was to demonstrate what new understanding of the Fenton Hill experiments could be realized via the application of modern numerical simulation tools by recognized expert practitioners. We present the suite of benchmark and challenge problems developed for the GTO-CCS, providing problem descriptions and sample solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-117
Number of pages39
JournalGeomechanics and Geophysics for Geo-Energy and Geo-Resources
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geophysics
  • Energy(all)
  • Economic Geology


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