Dr Gabriela Aristia is originally from Indonesia and she is currently conducting research on steel corrosion in geothermal power plants at BAM. She wants to advance the use of this CO2-free energy source in her home country.
How did you become interested in geothermal energy research?
I studied Physics in Surabaya, the second largest city in Indonesia, with a focus on material physics. I became interested in geothermal energy because the utilization of this kind of energy poses a big challenge to the material. At the same time, Indonesia has an enormous geothermal potential – in fact the highest in the world – since it is home to more than 120 active volcanoes, known as the Ring of Fire.
What are the challenges?
You have to drill deep into the earth, sometimes several hundred meters down below. At this depth, the pipelines are exposed to geothermal fluids at a high temperature and pressure that is conducive to corrosion. The fluids may contain chlorides, sulfates or sometimes CO2 and can also have low pH levels, so they are very acidic. Therefore, it is important to select proper materials or use a protective coating on the underground pipes to enhance the longevity of geothermal power plants. Together with Dr. Ralph Bäßler from BAM, we developed a protective coating for carbon steel, a widely used material in geothermal power plants.
How did you get in touch with BAM?
The Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember in Surabaya, where I studied, maintains a longstanding cooperation with BAM. During my studies I already began to learn German. After my master’s degree, I contacted BAM through one of my professors in Indonesia and was able to come to Berlin in 2016 after receiving a scholarship from the Indonesian government.
Your first impression?
BAM is an outstanding place for researchers. The laboratories are well equipped. I also have high regards for my colleagues and their wide-ranging expertise. And I am very impressed with the effective collaboration that BAM fosters.
Any plans for the future?
I just finished my PhD. I am now working as a postdoctoral researcher at BAM. My goal is to develop an alumina-based coating system to protect steel against corrosion in geothermal environments.