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A coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical model of jointed hard rock for compressed air energy storage
(2014)

Renewable energy resources such as wind and solar are intermittent, which causes instability when being connected to utility grid of electricity. Compressed air energy storage (CAES) provides an economic and technical viable solution to this problem by utilizing subsurface rock cavern to store the electricity generated by renewable energy in the form of compressed air. Though CAES has been used for over three decades, it is only restricted to salt rock or aquifers for air tightness reason. In this paper, the technical feasibility of utilizing hard rock for CAES is investigated by using a coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) modelling of nonisothermal gas flow. Governing equations are derived from the rules of energy balance, mass balance, and static equilibrium. Cyclic volumetric mass source and heat source models are applied to simulate the gas injection and production. Evaluation is carried out for intact rock and rock with discrete crack, respectively. In both cases, the heat and pressure losses using air mass control and supplementary air injection are compared.

The importance of modern simulation methods in the mechanical analysis of heterogeneous solids is presented in detail. Thereby the problem is noted that even for small bodies the required high-resolution analysis reaches the limits of today's computational power, in terms of memory demand as well as acceptable computational effort. A further problem is that frequently the accuracy of geometrical modelling of heterogeneous bodies is inadequate. The present work introduces a systematic combination and adaption of grid-based methods for achieving an essentially higher resolution in the numerical analysis of heterogeneous solids. Grid-based methods are as well primely suited for developing efficient and numerically stable algorithms for flexible geometrical modeling. A key aspect is the uniform data management for a grid, which can be utilized to reduce the effort and complexity of almost all concerned methods. A new finite element program, called Mulgrido, was just developed to realize this concept consistently and to test the proposed methods. Several disadvantages which generally result from grid discretizations are selectively corrected by modified methods. The present work is structured into a geometrical model, a mechanical model and a numerical model. The geometrical model includes digital image-based modeling and in particular several methods for the theory-based generation of inclusion-matrix models. Essential contributions refer to variable shape, size distribution, separation checks and placement procedures of inclusions. The mechanical model prepares the fundamentals of continuum mechanics, homogenization and damage modeling for the following numerical methods. The first topic of the numerical model introduces to a special version of B-spline finite elements. These finite elements are entirely variable in the order k of B-splines. For homogeneous bodies this means that the approximation quality can arbitrarily be scaled. In addition, the multiphase finite element concept in combination with transition zones along material interfaces yields a valuable solution for heterogeneous bodies. As the formulation is element-based, the storage of a global stiffness matrix is superseded such that the memory demand can essentially be reduced. This is possible in combination with iterative solver methods which represent the second topic of the numerical model. Here, the focus lies on multigrid methods where the number of required operations to solve a linear equation system only increases linearly with problem size. Moreover, for badly conditioned problems quite an essential improvement is achieved by preconditioning. The third part of the numerical model discusses certain aspects of damage simulation which are closely related to the proposed grid discretization. The strong efficiency of the linear analysis can be maintained for damage simulation. This is achieved by a damage-controlled sequentially linear iteration scheme. Finally a study on the effective material behavior of heterogeneous bodies is presented. Especially the influence of inclusion shapes is examined. By means of altogether more than one hundred thousand random geometrical arrangements, the effective material behavior is statistically analyzed and assessed.