A new instrument developed at the Geosciences Measurement Facility at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will help scientists working to identify ways to improve enhanced geothermal systems technologies to expand access to clean energy.

Two of the instruments, called SIMFIP (Step-Rate Injection Method for Fracture In-Situ Properties), were installed in late May nearly 5,000 feet below ground at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in South Dakota. SURF has become an essential testing ground for the Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) Collab Project, a collaboration of eight national labs and six universities exploring the potential to improve enhanced geothermal systems technologies led by Berkeley Lab.

The installations mark an important milestone for EGS Collab Project researchers focused on improving the understanding and modeling of rock fractures in geothermal environments. SIMFIP is the first tool to allow researchers to measure the aperture of a rock fracture. With better information about how rocks behave in the Earth’s subsurface, EGS technologies stand a better chance of fulfilling their potential to provide enough energy to power 100 million American homes.

Watch this video about the making of SIMFIP at GMF.