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Volume 2018 (2018), Article ID 3818629, 19 pages
Research Article

Modeling Highly Buoyant Flows in the Castel Giorgio: Torre Alfina Deep Geothermal Reservoir

1Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Milano-Bicocca, Piazza della Scienza 4, 20126 Milano, Italy
2Department of Environmental Informatics (ENVINF), Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
3Freie Universität Berlin, Hydrogeology, Malteserstr 74-100, 12249 Berlin, Germany
4Ricerca di Sistema Energetico (RSE) SpA, Via Rubattino 54, 20134 Milano, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Giorgio Volpi

Received 22 August 2017; Accepted 7 November 2017; Published 1 February 2018

Academic Editor: Francesco Italiano

Copyright © 2018 Giorgio Volpi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The Castel Giorgio-Torre Alfina (CG-TA, central Italy) is a geothermal reservoir whose fluids are hosted in a carbonate formation at temperatures ranging between 120°C and 210°C. Data from deep wells suggest the existence of convective flow. We present the 3D numerical model of the CG-TA to simulate the undisturbed natural geothermal field and investigate the impacts of the exploitation process. The open source finite-element code OpenGeoSys is applied to solve the coupled systems of partial differential equations. The commercial software FEFLOW® is also used as additional numerical constraint. Calculated pressure and temperature have been calibrated against data from geothermal wells. The flow field displays multicellular convective patterns that cover the entire geothermal reservoir. The resulting thermal plumes protrude vertically over 3 km at Darcy velocity of about  m/s. The analysis of the exploitation process demonstrated the sustainability of a geothermal doublet for the development of a 5 MW pilot plant. The buoyant circulation within the geothermal system allows the reservoir to sustain a 50-year production at a flow rate of 1050 t/h. The distance of 2 km, between the production and reinjection wells, is sufficient to prevent any thermal breakthrough within the estimated operational lifetime. OGS and FELFOW results are qualitatively very similar with differences in peak velocities and temperatures. The case study provides valuable guidelines for future exploitation of the CG-TA deep geothermal reservoir.