Early thermal breakthrough in enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) due to the presence of preferential flow channels is a major challenge that endangers efficient and economic heat extraction in such systems. Previous studies mainly focused on adjusting circulation rates of the working fluid, which still leaves significant amounts of untapped heat behind. Currently, there is a lack of technologies for altering flow distribution within the fracture network to achieve uniform heat sweeping in the reservoir. This work presents a novel concept for making proppants to autonomously control fracture conductivity based on the surrounding temperature. Here, proppants with negative thermal expansion coefficients have demonstrated the capability for appropriate fracture conductivity adjustment as a function of temperature to achieve uniform flow across the fracture network. Particle-particle interactions governing such functions are explicitly modeled, and then the Lattice Boltzmann methods (LBM) is used to determine the potential impact of closure stress and temperature changes on the permeability of the proposed proppant packs. Microscale analyses are further used to determine the required material properties to achieve a certain improvement in the permeability of the proppant pack. Our analyses show an enhancement in permeability and the associated fracture conductivity by half of their initial values. Field-scale analysis further confirms the effectiveness of the proposed concept as 31.4% more heat can be extracted from EGS over 50 years of production when the proposed proppants are used. Such novel proppants may effectively delay thermal breakthrough, sweep heat from larger rock volumes, and elongate the life span of the EGS project.

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