A company aims to power the world for millions of years by digging the deepest holes ever

A company aims to power the world for millions of years by digging the deepest holes ever …

A MIT spinout aims to utilize X-rays to melt rock and repurpose coal and gas plants into deep geothermal wells – effectively transformping dirty fossil-fuel plants into clean ones.

According to a press release, Paul Woskov, an MIT research associate who is developing a method that might restore a coal-fired power facility entirely carbon-free within a decade.

Ultimately, the company wants to up the ante by vaporizing enough rock to create the world’s deepest holes and capture geothermal energy on a scale large enough to meet human energy demands for millions of years.

HARNESSING THE BILLION-YEAR-OLD ENERGY SOURCE BENEATH THE SURFACE
These lofty dreams are inextricably linked to the energy that lies beneath our feet. Geothermal energy is the fundamental heat within the Earth: Heat produced during our planet’s formation and the radioactive decay of minerals produces heat, which is stored in rocks and fluids in the Earth’s core.

It is a renewable energy source since it exists continuously within our planet’s crust. However, geothermal energy has plateaued owing to the fact that harvesting is no easy feat. In fact, geothermal facilities exist only in areas where circumstances allow for energy extraction at relatively shallow depths of up to 400 feet (121.92 meters) beneath the Earth’s surface.

According to the MIT press release, conventional drilling becomes unsuitable beyond a certain depth because the deeper crust is both hotter and harder. This wears down mechanical drill bits, which is why a novel approach is so vital.

Quaise’s drilling systems are centered around this device, which has been used for decades in research and development for purposes such as heating material during nuclear fusion experiments. The company has established an ambitious target of utilizing electricity from a pilot well by 2026.

GYROTRON BEAMS ARE USED TO VAPORIZE ROCK.
After using gyrotron beams in nuclear fusion experiments for many years, Woskov developed the idea to use them to vaporize rock, and he conducted experiments in which he blasted small rock formations with waves from a small gyrotron at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center.

Quaise, a company founded by Carlos Araque andMatt Houde, has received government funding to expand Woskov’s experiments with a larger gyrotron.

Quaise’s gyrotron-powered drilling platform evaporates boreholes through rock, allowing access to deep geothermal heat without the need for complicated downhole equipment.

The team at Qaise hopes to finish a hole ten times the depth of Woskov’s lab experiments with the larger machine by the end of the year. Then, they will evaporate a hole ten times the depth of the previous one, which is referred to as a 100-to-1 hole. Ultimately, the company intends to beginvaporizing rock in field tests late next year and extract energy from pilot geothermal wells with rock temperatures up to 932 degrees Fahrenheit (500 degrees Celsius) by

“This will happen very quickly once we overcome the immediate engineering difficulties of delivering a clean beam and having it operate at a high energy density without breakdown,” Woskov, who serves as an advisor at Quaise, adds in a press release. “These beam sources have never been used 24/7, but they are engineered to last for extended periods of time. I’m very optimistic.”

Quaise will be able to tap into the worldwide labor force of the oil and gas industry when its millimeter-wave drilling equipment is compatible with the existing worldwide fleet of drilling rigs.

“Renewable energy has made significant advances over the past decade, but the big picture today is we aren’t going nearly fast enough to meet the demands we need to minimize the worst impacts of climate change,” Houde adds. “Deep geothermal is a power resource that can scale anywhere and has the ability to tap into a large workforce in the energy industry to easily repackage their skills for a totally carbon free energy source.”

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