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Study of Additive Manufacturing Applications to Geothermal Technologies Final Project Report...

Publication Type
ORNL Report
Publication Date

This report summarizes work performed to assess the potential for utilizing additive manufacturing (AM) to substantially improve either the availability, performance or cost basis for tools and components that are required for geothermal energy production. A systematic cataloging of geothermal activities, associated technologies, and current manufacturing methods was first undertaken. This included literature reviews as well as interviews with subject matter experts, service companies and OEMs. An industry workshop was held as part of this portion of the project to obtain input and concerns from a broad range of OEMs, service providers and end users. This workshop was also used to gage the current level of AM activity in industry, receptiveness to the use of AM manufactured parts, and any up front concerns that may exist. A summary of the workshop is presented in this report.

Representative components and assemblies and their current manufacturing methods were then analyzed by additive manufacturing experts at a company called Senvol to determine the feasibility and required steps for producing parts by additive manufacturing. A step by step description of conventional manufacturing of the parts was also performed to establish a manufacturing baseline for comparison purposes. This analysis also considered and described the benefits of additively manufacturing the parts in terms of specific AM systems, material availability for AM, dimensional requirements and potential economic advantages. Details of the manufacturability assessment were summarized in a report which is included as a chapter in this document

The analysis of the AM subject matter experts was then be used by techno-economic analysts to perform a comparative economic evaluation of the manufacturing of select technologies by AM and conventional approaches. This activity leveraged ORNL expertise and prior experience in other applications. A framework based on assessing cost, volume production considerations, and time to manufacture was created to more easily discern the advantages or disadvantages of additive versus conventional manufacturing methods.

The report concludes with a general assessment of the current applicability of AM for geothermal technologies, AM gaps and needs related to typical geothermal hardware, and the potential benefits and impacts of AM to geothermal energy production.