In-Situ Borehole and Geofluid Simulator (IBGS)

Engineering of the geothermal energy systems involves the engineer-technical utilization of thermal energy from the subsoil for heating purposes or power production. A central problem of the research on geothermal systems is the fact that an essential part of the process takes place in the underground and can therefore only be examined by indirect measures (e.g. in close vicinity of a borehole). Hence, most research relies on laboratory tests that simulates geothermal reservoir processes. The actual pressure- and temperature conditions of the geothermal reservoirs at depth up to 5.000 m are partly neglected and not shown by the laboratory. The interactions and technical processes of the development and use of these geothermal reservoirs e.g. drilling processes, cannot be completely adjusted. However, the acquired test rig, in situ drilling and geothermal fluids simulator (IBGS) at Bochum University of Applied Sciences closes this gap and enables users to simulate the processes of geothermal reservoirs under realistic conditions. The IBGS is therefore a valuable addition to the already existing equipment at the Bochum University of Applied Sciences regarding the exploration of geothermal systems. The Bochum University of Applied Sciences also operates a drilling rig and several geo-scientific laboratories. The IBGS will significantly support the work of the professors, scientific employees and doctoral candidates at the International Geothermal Centre Bochum.

The IBGS describes a pressure- and temperature test-cell, in which cylindrical rock-samples are exposed to the conditions of depths up to 5.000m. These conditions can be simulated by simultaneously heating and applying pressure on all sides of the rock sample. The sample size (0,25 m in diameter and 1,5 m in length) allows test drilling and testing of drilling equipment in the rock samples. The IBGS has a suitable access for tests with real drilling equipment, which are normally used for the development of reservoirs. Additionally, the fluids can be displayed in condition of a real process (the fluids of the drilling process and geo-/porefluids of the rock).

Basic research questions could be answered by using the IBGS (Which interactions occur between rocks and fluids?) and application related problems are overcome (How can the drilling costs be reduced? Is it necessary to develop the reservoir using hydraulic stimulation?) With this standpoint, it is for the first time possible to simulate the complete chain of processes for developing and using geothermal reservoirs under realistic conditions. The IBGS provides the research on geothermal systems with a unique experimental equipment and closes the gap between laboratory research and the real processes in the subsurface.

The department of civil engineering at the Bochum University of Applied Sciences together with the International Geothermal Centre (GZB) provides the necessary infrastructural and experimental conditions for the test-rig of IBGS e.g. equipment for the extraction of rock samples to characterize the samples to the pre-preparation of the rock-samples and the technical equipment for operating such a large system. The Bochum University of Applied Sciences is at the forefront of international geothermal research due to the possibilities of the IBGS. The research results generated by the IBGS are relevant for scientific-, engineer-technological- and society-political questions due to the worldwide transformations towards renewable energy. Theoretically, there is an enormous potential for future use of geothermal energy worldwide, which could be realized and turned into products and projects with the newly gained knowledge. 

Following questions should, among others, be examined with the IBGS:

  • How can the seismic risks of the development and use of geothermal reservoirs (e.g. by hydraulic stimuzlation) be controlled and minimized?
  • How does the currently developed drilling-technologies at the International Geothermal Centre behave under realistic conditions? The focus is on e.g. laser drilling or directional drilling.
  • How can the drilling rate increase as a function of the rocks and cutting costs per drilling meter, in order to improve efficiency of heat and power from geothermal energy?

The IBGS as a cornerstone for the infrastructure at the International Geothermal Centre – GZB strengthens the innovation power and competitiveness of Germany as well as paves the way for sustainable economic and energy supply for climate and environment protection.


Zusätzliche Information


Prof. Dr. Rolf Bracke

Professor of Geothermal Energy and Environmental Technologies
Director GZB - International Geothermal Centre

Room: G1 1-011
Phone: +49 (0)234 32-10216

Rolf Bracke