Caribeean Plate Geothermal Plants

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CHENA HOT SPRINGS John W. Lund, Geo-Heat Center INTRODUCTION I visited Chena Hot Springs Resort, about 60 miles (100 km) northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska, in the summer of 1981 and wrote an article on my experience for the Bulletin (Vol. 6, No. 3, Fall, 1981, pp. 23-25). My experience included driv- ing the gravel road from Fairbanks, and in the process, los- ing a window in my brother-in-law’s car from a passing truck. The site at that time was primitive with few buildings, gas was $2.00 per gallon (about double compared to Fair- banks) and a convention center was on the drawing board. We did enjoy soaking in the various pools. This August, I again visited the resort, with many of my fellow geothermal experts. This time I drove on a paved road all the way from Fairbanks. The occasion was the 1st Annual Renewable Energy Fair and dedication of the low temperature, 200 kW, geothermal binary power plant by the owner Bernie Karl, Governor Frank Murkowski and U.S. Senator Ted Stevens. This plant, built by United Technolo- gies Corporation (UTC) of Hartford, CT (www.utc.com), uses the lowest temperature geothermal resource in the world for power generation – at 165o F (74oC) – and is the first in Alaska. Following the dedication of the power plant, the Alaska Geothermal Working Group held two days of meetings, which included a reception in the Au- rora Ice Museum, drinking “Appletini” from individually hand-carved champagne ice glasses, bartended by Bernie Karl. Much has been added to the Chena Hot Springs Resort since 1981, an ice museum, lodging, expansion of the green- house and visits by many Japanese tourists who love to see the Aurora Borealis in the winter and soak in the geothermal waters. A summary of the various projects are described below, and a more detailed article is provided in this issue on the Aurora Ice Museum. HOT SPRINGS AND POOLS In 1905, Robert Swan looking for a place where he could ease the pain he suffered from rheumatism, set out in a boat loaded with supplies on the Chena River looking for the hot springs that had been reported by a surveying party the year before. Traveling the North Fork of the Chena and then into Monument Creek, he found the hot springs in August of 1905. This led to the development of the hot springs, and by 1911, the property had a stable, bathhouse and twelve small cabins for visitors. Later the waters were analyzed and found to consist of silica (85 ppm), sulfate (68 ppm), chlo- ride (29 ppm), sodium (110 ppm) and bicarbonate (115 ppm), similar to water from one of the famous springs at Carlsbad in the former Czechoslovakia (see, Lund, 2000). Today the resort consists of the main lodge with a dining area, bar and conference room, an Activity Center, the office/storage 2 GHC BULLETIN, SEPTEMBER 2006

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