This paper reviews the limitations in current down-hole monitoring technologies for geothermal energy systems and introduces microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors as a means of optimizing well performance. The use of continuous, real-time, down-hole monitoring can improve geothermal well efficiencies and increase well life. More specifically, monitoring can aid in obtaining accurate temperature and pressure profiles to allow for optimized well reinjection and energy extraction. A variety of materials used in the fabrication of MEMS sensors have been tested in an experimental geothermal environment (critical-point water) and exposed for up to 100 hours. The results obtained from the exposure testing support the use of harsh environment materials to create a suite of sensors that can be permanently located down-hole. MEMS-based temperature and pressure sensors using a harsh environment materials platform are currently in the design phase for down-hole monitoring. In addition to designing harsh environment sensors that can reliably monitor down-hole conditions, suitable packaging must be considered. One vision is to mount the sensors to the well casings through the use of new bonding technologies.

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