A new drilling system makes well-directed microwave radiation


Altarock Energy tests a new drilling technology, in which rock rocks are destroyed under the action of directional microwave radiation.

In the bowels of the earth, a huge supply of thermal energy is hidden, 0.1% of which is enough to meet the needs of humanity for 2 billion years. However, modern drilling methods do not cope with dense rocks and high pressure, and some can even provoke an earthquake. Therefore, most projects do not reach the depth of more than 3 km due to technical and financial problems.

Previously, a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology proposed to abandon mechanical impact and melted minerals using millimeter waves. Altarock Energy Engineers took the basis of this idea and developed a new installation that uses 1 MW gyrotron to generate microwave radiation with a frequency of 30 to 300 GHz.

The technology provides that the metal waveguide sends powerful radiation to the mineral, melting it and burning the hole. To prevent the destruction of plasma and its ignition, compressed gas is injected in parallel. During the preliminary tests, the team successfully made holes in granite, basalt, sandstone and limestone.

Recently, Altarock Energy received a grant in the amount of $ 3.9 million from the Agency for promising research of the US Department of Energy. Over the next three years, the company plans to improve the system and demonstrate its efficiency on the plates thick with the room. Drilling on real test landfills should begin by September 2022.

According to the developers, such a system will accelerate the penetration of greater depth at lower costs, compared with mechanical methods.

Another example of improving the efficiency of existing technologies is

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