You are here



Please Note that a Letter of Intent is due Tuesday, September 05, 2017


Maximum Phase I Award Amount: $150,000

Maximum Phase II Award Amount: $1,000,000

Accepting SBIR Applications: YES

Accepting STTR Applications: YES


The Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES), in collaboration with the Geothermal Technologies Office, is using high-risk, high-reward, basic research elements to advance the state of the art in adaptive control of subsurface fractures and fluid flow. This topic seeks applications in permeability manipulation and fluid control for geothermal energy production. From beneath the surface of the earth, we currently obtain about 80-percent of the energy our nation consumes each year. In the future we have the potential to generate gigawatts of baseload electrical power from domestic geothermal energy sources. The Department of Energy established the Subsurface Technology and Engineering RD&D (SubTER) initiative to more effectively harness subsurface resources while mitigating the impacts of developing and using these resources. One of the topic areas SubTER is emphasizing for targeted research and development is permeability manipulation and fluid control.


Related to this topic, the Geothermal Technologies Office is primarily interested in applications which enhance fluid flow, while some energy applications demand reducing or eliminating fluid flow. Applications responsive to this topic will describe a project that explores the feasibility of innovative concepts in subsurface permeability manipulation and fluid control. These projects should seek to develop a basic knowledge base and capabilities to manipulate subsurface flow through an integration of physical alterations, physicochemical fluid/rock interaction processes, and novel stimulation methods implemented at the field scale and show a pathway to for commercial application of these innovative concepts. In addition to providing details about the proposed Phase I project, the applicant should also describe how they plan to scale up to the principal R&D effort if successful in proceeding to Phase II.


Grant applications are sought in the following subtopic:

a. Innovations to Enhance Fluid Flow for Increased Geothermal Development

Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) are engineered reservoirs, created where there is hot rock but little to no natural permeability or fluid saturation present in the subsurface. To develop EGS, enhancing subsurface permeability is typically achieved by injecting fluid into the subsurface at pressure under a safe, controlled, environmentally responsible, and well-engineered stimulation process that will cause pre-existing fractures or weaknesses in the rock fabric to open. The pressure increase causes displacements along the fracture planes and zones of rock heterogeneity, which results in increased permeability and allows fluid to circulate throughout the rock, heating up during circulation. Via a production well, this heated fluid then transports the heat to the surface, which can be used to generate electricity. The Department estimates that EGS technologies will enable an additional 100+ GW of baseload geothermal development.

Grant applications are sought to research, develop, and deploy novel stimulation techniques that will enable commercial deployment of EGS. The approaches (or combination of approaches) could include, but are not limited to: energetic approaches (e.g., high/low explosives or propellants), chemical approaches (e.g., acidization), and/or mechanical stimulation. New materials, propellants, and energetics can be proposed along with the possibility of developing waterless stimulation techniques that reduce, or eliminate, the use of water.

These techniques should aim to deliver precise stimulation at precise locations with the desired rate of energy release. Successful application of stimulation approaches could make the difference between an economical and sustainable EGS reservoir and one that may otherwise be abandoned. Due to the nature of geothermal reservoirs, the concepts proposed must be effective in high-temperature (> 250°C), high-pressure (> 1500 bar), and hard crystalline lithologies. Applicants are encourage to quantify their predicted improvement over current state of the art.

Questions – Contact: Josh Mengers,


b. Other

In addition to the specific subtopic listed above, the Department solicits applications in other areas that fall within the specific scope of the topic description above. This includes innovations which impede or eliminate fluid flow in the subsurface.

Questions – Contact: Josh Mengers,


1. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Earth Sciences Division, Subsurface Crosscut:, SubTER: Subsurface and Engineering Research, Development, and Demonstration, Permeability Manipulation and Fluid Control.

2. U.S. Department of Energy, Subsurface Technology and Engineering RD&D Crosscutting Team, Subsurface Control for a Safe and Effective Energy Future.

US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government