New drilling technology could open new doors for geothermal energy and disrupt the entire energy industry.
Geothermal energy is already one of the technologies that makes it possible to deliver large amounts of energy without the slightest incineration of fossil fuels and the slightest emission of greenhouse gases. But its application is unfortunately limited to very specific geographical areas at the moment.
Experts believe that this technology can still make significant progress, but it involves digging very deep geothermal wells within a few tens of meters of existing channels. But from a certain depth, the hardness and temperature of the stone becomes Hard to bear for drills.
To take geothermal energy to the next level, so it is necessary Find an effective way to pierce the crust, even deeper into the earth’s crust. The engineering challenge is huge, but the payoff is worth it; With this approach, it will be possible to harness a tremendous amount of geothermal energy that could revolutionize the entire energy industry.
To evaporate a high-tech microwave rock
And that’s where it comes from Coy, A satellite company of the prestigious MIT. Based on the work of the engineer Paul OskovHe develops an idea based on a gyrotron. It is a device already used for remote heating of materials already used in many industries, especially in the field of nuclear fusion testing.
Very vulgarly, it works a bit like a big laser; The purpose is to focus an electromagnetic wave so that all its energy can be concentrated in a small space. The difference is that the gyrotron operates in a different frequency range; It is emitted Microwave instead of visible light.
The idea is very simple on paper: it uses a very powerful gyrotron to heat the rock The site is sprayed. This technique could make it possible to dig extremely deep geothermal wells – the company even talks The deepest hole has been drilled!
For the moment, this is still just an idea. Even based on the technology that seems to have already matured, it is another story to implement it in real situations. And that’s exactly what Quaise Energy will try to do with a grant from the US Department of Energy.
By the end of the year, it will test its first prototype. The purpose will be to dig a hole Ten times deeper চেয়ে More than Waskov during his solo work (this figure is not published). He will then go to a second well, this time 100 times deeper than the original.
This move is not expected before 2024 as it will require large modeling efforts. But if the quiz passes this course, the firm will have all the weapons at hand for the final expansion.
In the end, the company wants to reinvest in unused power plants. It will thus be able to reuse existing infrastructure; Enough to give these buildings a second life. At this point it will be enough to transform the rest of the equipment and then dig to a depth About 20 km – where the temperature systematically reaches several hundred degrees.
A new but really promising idea
Then it will be possible Jumping the geographical limits of geothermal energy. ” We believe that by drilling up to 20 kilometers, we will be able to access this extreme temperature from 90% of the planet. Says a press release from MIT.
And it’s not just about availability. Having access to such temperatures at all times will make it possible to produce one A very large amount of energy Which can compete with traditional power plants.
” At this temperature, we produce steam with temperatures very close to or higher than those found in coal or gas-fired power plants. “, Explains the press release.
According to researchers, this is also a sustainable method. Once mature, it can replace almost all of the world’s coal and meet human energy needs. “ Millions of years “
Is this time right?
Of course, we are still far from it. For now, the drilling technology itself has not been fully developed. Once this is done, it will also be necessary to determine its environmental impact. It will then be necessary to develop new equipment to utilize these exceptionally deep wells, which will be nothing more than simple.
Despite everything, MIT is optimistic and believes that the first results can come very quickly. The technical foundations are already in place and all that remains is to integrate everything into a single efficient and reliable system. ” If we can solve these engineering problems, I think we will have a functional plant in five or six years. Said the father of ideas.
This makes this technology particularly interesting in the current context. “ In recent years we have made incredible progress in renewable energy, but overall we are still not moving fast enough to meet the targets that will limit the impact of global warming. Explain to researchers. The advent of such technology would certainly be a big step in this direction.
But it should be Take all these promises with a grain of salt. As always when an organization uncovers the source of revolutionary energy. After all, it’s no coincidence that Woskov’s work has long stood still; The technical challenges are huge. But this method has such great potential that it is worth exploring in any case. So we give you an appointment in a few years to see if this research has gone from idea to reality.