The efficiency of heat recovery in high-temperature (>60 °C) aquifer thermal energy storage (HT-ATES) systems is limited due to the buoyancy of the injected hot water. This study investigates the potential to improve the efficiency through compensation of the density difference by increased salinity of the injected hot water for a single injection-recovery well scheme. The proposed method was tested through numerical modeling with SEAWATv4, considering seasonal HT-ATES with four consecutive injection-storage-recovery cycles. Recovery efficiencies for the consecutive cycles were investigated for six cases with three simulated scenarios: (a) regular HT-ATES, (b) HT-ATES with density difference compensation using saline water, and (c) theoretical regular HT-ATES without free thermal convection. For the reference case, in which 80 °C water was injected into a high-permeability aquifer, regular HT-ATES had an efficiency of 0.40 after four consecutive recovery cycles. The density difference compensation method resulted in an efficiency of 0.69, approximating the theoretical case (0.76). Sensitivity analysis showed that the net efficiency increase by using the density difference compensation method instead of regular HT-ATES is greater for higher aquifer hydraulic conductivity, larger temperature difference between injection water and ambient groundwater, smaller injection volume, and larger aquifer thickness. This means that density difference compensation allows the application of HT-ATES in thicker, more permeable aquifers and with larger temperatures than would be considered for regular HT-ATES systems.
- Aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES)
- Density difference compensation
- Groundwater density
- Numerical modeling
- Recovery efficiency