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Innovative techniques for subsurface and renewable resources exploration, such as geothermal energy

The INNOLOG project led by CSIC has developed two probes (borehole logging tools) and a mineral-identification software based on machine leaning/deep learning methods to improve the time and cost efficiency in the search of subsoil/subsurface resources. Innolog results and products apply new sensors and technologies (hyperspectral and laser based) that enable a more efficient subsoil exploration for resources, such as geothermal ones, in accordance with the goals of the European Green Deal.

Prototype testing.In the frame of the EIT Raw Materials upscaling INNOLOG project an international team has developed three innovative tools, since 2017. Two probes based on hyperspectral and laser imaging technologies, respectively, and an image analysis software for mineral identification, applying artificial intelligence (machine and deep learning). The probes facilitate the analysis of the rocks composition and properties directly in the subsurface and therefore will help in the search of renewable geothermal resources in the subsoil.

Moreover the new tools and are more efficient than the existing tools for this purpose, as the composition of the subsoil can be analysed directly in the subsurface, saving time and reducing the cost. Until now, and applying the standard procedures to determine the composition of subsurface rocks requires the extraction of rock samples and analyses in labs. A reduction of the time and cost required to determine rock composition and properties represents a significant advantage.

“We already have final operational prototypes; we expect they can be implemented in a year or a year and a half”, says María José Jurado, project leader and a researcher at GEO3BCN – CSIC. Currently, the project has been selected for entering the final phase of The Collider competition, which offers support for commercial implementation of research developments and for the EIT 2020 Innovators Award. The scientists Joaquín del Río and David Sarria, from the UPC are also involved in the project.

“Our results contribute to improve the efficiency of the exploration and exploitation of natural resources, as well as to reduce the environmental impact of these activities” adds the researcher.

These systems help also to evaluate sustainable energy resources that exist in the subsurface and the possible uses of this geothermal energy. The project is thus aligned with the objectives of the EU Green Deal of the, which seeks innovative solutions in renewable energies to achieve total decarbonisation by mid-century.