Thermochem provides chemical engineering, laboratory analysis, geochemistry and field testing services and products to a wide range of energy industries. From base operations in the Western USA and South East Asia, Thermochem has served oil and gas, power generation and renewable energy companies for 25 years. The company’s full-time staff consists of engineers, chemists, geologists, and computer programmers with extensive experience in chemical process engineering, chemical modeling, analytical chemistry, geochemistry, electronics, CADD design and manufacturing. The primary focus of Thermochem is to protect the long-term assets of our clients and to increase the efficiency of their operations through consulting and testing services, and innovative chemical process development, designed to optimize energy extraction and power generation operations.
Thermochem conducts research under US Department of Energy (DOE) and California Energy Commission (CEC) grant programs for the development of improved power conversion and enhanced resource recovery technologies. These projects are conducted under grants issued directly to Thermochem and through collaboration with the National Energy Labs at Berkeley (LBL), Livermore (LLNL), Brookhaven (BNL), Idaho (INEEL), the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) in Colorado and Sandia National Lab (SNL) in New Mexico. The R&D projects include advanced steam purification technology for removal of corrosive vapors from superheated steam, development of laser-based instrumentation for steam quality and purity, fouling mitigation for brine heat exchangers, evaluations of new polymer coatings for steel, high-temperature deep wellbore logging and fluid sampling tools, and vapor/liquid reservoir tracer research.
The president of Thermochem, Paul N. Hirtz, is also the chairman of ASTM committee E44.15 which provides recommended practices and develops standards for technical activities associated with geothermal resource exploration and development. This scope includes: exploration techniques; production equipment design, specification and testing; resource and production measurements (downhole, surface and power plant); material selection and corrosion, erosion, and material coatings testing; evaluation and treatment of geothermal wastes. ASTM committee E44.15 also provides recommended practices and develops standards to be used in the exploitation of geothermal fluid and earth heat. All aspects of electric power generate from geothermal resources including steam, two-phase, flash and organic rankine cycle (binary) power general systems and associated cascade uses of reject heat or fluids are considered for standardization, including applications involving earth-coupled heat pumps, direct-use heating and cooling, industrial processing, greenhouses, agriculture, aquaculture and mineral extraction. The ASTM standard E 1675 (two-phase fluid sampling) was derived from internal Thermochem procedures developed over many years and drafted by Mr. Hirtz into a published ASTM standard practice. New ASTM standards for steam purity and quality measurement are currently in progress. In addition to the active development of ASTM standards, Mr. Hirtz is an editorial board member for the Geoscience journal Geothermics. Mr. Hirtz and his staff have published over 25 technical papers related to the energy industry over the past 25 years.
Technology and Instrumentation
Thermochem developed a two-phase on-line flow measurement technology for true mass flow rate measurement of steam and water phases for steam qualities from 1 to 99%. Thermochem provides this measurement service, manufactures and sells the equipment, and has provided training and consultation to clients from Iceland to Indonesia for over 12 years. This technology is also applicable to cooling water flow measurement in fossil-fuel and nuclear power plants, any single-phase or two-phase steam/water flow, and multi-phase gas / hydrocarbon / water production from oil and gas wells.
Thermochem has greatly improved on the original Ellison throttling calorimeter and the ASTM isokinetic steam sampling probe for the on-line measurement of trace levels of moisture in steam. Thermochem manufactures an ultra-low heat loss calorimeter using vacuum Dewar technology, and a true isokinetic sampling probe that minimizes flow disturbances and impurity losses.
Thermochem has developed advanced downhole logging and fluid sampling tools for geothermal, oil and gas wells. These tools can be used at temperatures over 350 °C to log pressure, temperature, flow and fluid conductivity. Samples of steam, hydrocarbon, and water can be collected under single or multi-phase conditions. An integral total-heat calorimeter allows the collection of known quantities of steam and water under two-phase flow conditions for phase reconstruction of analytical results.