US DOE to back geothermal drilling R&D with USD 11.4m

Newberry Geothermal Lease Project. Source: Bureau of Land Management. Licence: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic.

October 12 (Renewables Now) - The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award almost USD 11.4 million (EUR 9.8m) to seven projects involved in geothermal research and development (R&D), it announced this week.

The major goal of the initiative is to lower drilling costs and increase the availability of resources, said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. All of the selected schemes focus on early-stage R&D exploring innovative technologies for geothermal drilling and seek to prove those technologies can cut non-drilling time and improve rates of penetration (ROP). The projects will also aim to identify methods for speeding up the transfer of geothermal drilling and related technologies from the laboratory to the marketplace.

More specifically, Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois will work on the creation of new drill bits with specific properties that can double the ROP for drilling geothermal wells, while GE Global Research, the R&D division of General Electric (NYSE:GE), will test a new drilling sensor operating at high temperatures. The Oklahoma State University, meanwhile, will work to design a special system for enhancing geothermal drilling using real-time data.

Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico will develop sensing tools and algorithms for improving the drilling process and also develop and test a new metal down-hole motor for drilling into high-temperature geothermal reservoirs.

Developing a new drill bit system with nanosecond micro-plasma discharge will be an assignment for the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station. Last but not least, the University of Oklahoma will obtain part of the DOE financing for developing and testing smart lost circulation materials (LCM) that can reduce non-drilling time and strengthen the wellbore during high-temperature geothermal drilling.

Presently, the US produces geothermal power only in the western states, having about 3.8 GW of operational capacity, while the untapped resources are estimated at 100 GW.

(USD 1.0 = EUR 0.861)

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Veselina Petrova is one of SeeNews Renewables most experienced green energy writers. For several years she has been keeping track of game-changing events both large and small projects and across the globe.

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