Development in Drilling Technology for Geothermal Energy
With the current push for development of green, renewable energy sources new attention is focusing upon geothermal technology. In the past geothermal development was concentrated in areas where the resource is located relatively close to the earth’s surface. Today, emerging developments in geothermal technology are making deep drilling possible.
New drilling technologies mean geothermal energy is now available in parts of the world where such resources were formerly thought to be nonexistent. These new technologies will help geothermal energy be recognized as an important renewable energy source. Some of these revolutionary drilling techniques include:
- Laser drilling – lasers are used to melt deep rock layers, releasing trapped heat and steam
- Spallation drilling – flames quickly heat surrounding rock resulting in fracturing or spalling of the substrate
- Chemical drilling – corrosive acids are injected into the rock creating fractures
- Projectile drilling – materials similar to ball bearings are injected down the drill tube using highly pressurized water. The hardness and velocity of the projectiles forcibly break apart the surrounding rock.
These technologies could result in faster drilling penetration rates reducing costs and improving the economic feasibility of deep geothermal resources. Additionally, improvements in polycrystalline diamond drill bits increase the lifespan of each bit. The bits last longer, reducing down time for installing new machinery.
These innovations continue to make geothermal energy more economically viable. Harnessing clean hot water and steam for energy needs is a green alternative to fossil fuels.