Monday, April 26, 2010

Spallation Drilling Offers Hope for Deep Geothermal

Deep rock drilling is extremely expensive, but in order to take maximum advantage of enhanced geothermal energy, we have to drill many thousands of feet into the hot rock. The links and video below point toward a possible solution: spallation drilling.
Brian Westenhaus took a recent look at the growth in the number of geothermal projects across the US. And a recent Seeker Blog article on geothermal energy suggests that spallation drilling should provide an economic means for drilling at the necessary depths for high quality heat.  The graph below shows the projected economic benefit of spallation drilling vs. conventional deep rock drilling.

Hydrothermal spallation was invented and patented by cofounder Bob Potter and Jefferson Tester of MIT. The patent is owned by MIT and licensed exclusively to Potter Drilling.
An animation of how hydrothermal spallation works.

An animation of how hydrothermal spallation works.
Chad Augustine MIT PhD Thesis Chemical Engineering

Summary of Potter Geothermal project funded by US DOE

Description of hydrothermal spallation drilling at Energy Boom

2006 Technology Review interview with patent holder Jefferson Tester

Adapted from a post published at Al Fin, The Next Level



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