Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETHZ), Switzerland
The BedrettoLab is an open and extendable research infrastructure of ETH Zurich. It is located in the Bedretto tunnel in the Swiss Alps. Its primary mission is to advance transdisciplinary research in geo-energy applications, such as deep geothermal reservoir development in crystalline rocks, and in frontier geoscience research, such as earthquake physics and predictability. Laboratories in the deep underground bridge the gap between natural scales (kilometres and above) and the research-lab scale (centimetres). This facility is extremely valuable to Earth scientists for hypothesis driven, fundamental research as well as for technology demonstrations. In a natural and realistic setting, experiments such as inducing micro-earthquakes or reservoir stimulation at the scale of tens to hundreds of meters can be conducted under controlled and repeatable conditions, observed closely by hundreds of multi-parameter sensors. Currently, about 50 scientists, engineers and technicians are part of the core BedrettoLab Team.
The BedrettoLab offers access to multiple testbeds:
Geothermal testbed focusing on the development of large-scale deep reservoirs for water circulation, storage and extraction of geothermal energy. The Geothermal testbed is equipped with numerous boreholes for stimulation or monitoring purposes. The monitoring boreholes are equipped with a high-resolution monitoring system.
Earthquake Physics testbed focusing on the fundamental understanding of earthquake physics which is constructed around the so-called MC fault zone where multiple stimulation experiments will be taking place in the coming years within the EU Syg. Project FEAR. The Earthquake Physics testbed is currently composed of
- 3 long boreholes intersecting the MC fault zone.
- A 120 m long side tunnel to the Bedretto tunnel in parallel to the MC fault zone. (under construction – estimated end of construction Q1 2025)
- The Bedretto On Fault Observatory (BOFO) for the observations of the MC fault during experimentation (Under construction – expected end of construction Q4 2024), including 4 tetrahedrons of high-resolution acoustic emission sensors.
Deep Life Observatory (DELOS) to study organisms living at the energy limit of life throughout the Bedretto tunnel.
Beyond the two dedicated testbeds, the Bedretto tunnel provides smaller experimental sites, such as individual boreholes (10-40m), geological outcrops, water inflows or hydro-bio-chemical sampling at various places along the 5.2km long tunnel. Additional experimental sites with small infrastructures (no deep boreholes) can be set-up on demand.
Services currently offered by the infrastructure:
The BedrettoLab offers TAs for the testing of new sensors, novel data acquisition techniques during an upcoming stimulation experiment, as well as dedicated experiments on geochemistry, geology, geophysics, and hydrogeology in all testbeds.
The BedrettoLab also offers VAs to data archives and computational models of ongoing and past experiments, collected by sensor arrays and fiber optic cables (seismic, strain, temperature, pressure, geochemistry, Simfip, etc.), as well as structural and geological representations and models.
Data acquired during TAs will directly flow in standardized formats to the local data archives for VA.
Modality of access:
For TAs, the planned unit access for the facility is “1 week”, with typical durations being 1 to 12 weeks, for 1 or several people. TAs can also be offered in part remotely, for example, by offering access to real-time data flows from specific sensors during experiments.
The BedrettoLab can host a maximum of 3 projects simultaneously dispatched over the different testbeds. Due to the dimension and timeline of extensive experiments, the objective is not necessarily to conduct individual experiments sequentially, but to bundle several technological and scientific hypothesis and experiments and conduct these jointly in collaborative experiments. Potentially, in sequential experimental phases, building on each other. As the partners may change for different phases, TA to the testbeds can be granted in a collaborative manner. Data and infrastructure from different fields of research and development of the different partners can so mutually benefit from each other.
Access to the BedrettoLab includes technical and IT support for deployment and logistical support for implementation as well as safety training and safety equipment.
Access includes interactions and collaboration opportunities with top scientists and engineers at all career levels, many of them being world-leaders in their respective domains.