Improving geothermal systems through hydraulic stimulation to create highly permeable fractured rocks can induce seismicity. Therefore, the technique must be applied at a moderate intensity; this has led to concerns of insufficient permeability enhancement. Adding chemical stimulation can mitigate these issues, but traditional methods using strong mineral acids have challenges in terms of achieving mineral dissolution over long distances and highly variable fluid chemistry. Here, we demonstrate a novel chemical stimulation method for improving the permeability of rock fractures using a chelating agent that substantially enhances the dissolution rate of specific minerals to create voids that are sustained under crustal stress without the challenges associated with the traditional methods. Applying this agent to fractured granite samples under confining stress at 200 °C in conjunction with 20 wt% aqueous solutions of sodium salts of environmentally friendly chelating agents (N-(2-hydroxyethyl)ethylenediamine-N, N′, N′-triacetic acid and N, N-bis(carboxymethyl)-l-glutamic acid) at pH 4 was assessed. A significant permeability enhancement of up to approximately sixfold was observed within 2 h, primarily due to the formation of voids based on the selective dissolution of biotite. These results demonstrate a new approach for chemical stimulation.
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