Green Britain: Geologist explains how geothermal site works
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Quaise Inc., an energy company pioneering millimetre-wave drilling technology, has a radical plan to access deep geothermal energy from the deepest hole in the planet. The firm launched in 2020 and was able to raise a total of US $63 million (almost £48 million) in its first round of venture capital funding. If successful, Quaise could use its technology to provide near limitless geothermal energy across the world.
The company aims to combine conventional drilling technologies with a megawatt-power flashlight to get closer to the centre of the earth.
Carlos Araque, CEO of Quaise Energy previously said: “Our focus is on applying this breakthrough approach to drill deep enough to access the abundant hot rock that exists in the Earth’s crust, unlocking a clean energy source at scale,”
“We intend to capitalize on the knowledge and footprint of the oil and gas industry to achieve this goal, giving us a 100-year head start for achieving operations on a global scale.”
With solar, wind and nuclear energy gradually pick up steam as options for green energy, geothermal power is often forgotten.
Geothermal energy is thermal energy that is stored within the Earth and is readily available everywhere.
However, very little of this energy is available near the surface of the earth.
Due to limitations in drilling technology, companies have not been able to harness it as a significant energy source.
However, as deep drilling technology advances, experts believe that geothermal energy would be unlocked around the globe, and the energy gained could be abundant enough to power our civilization for millennia.
To date, humans have not managed to make it drill past 12.3 kilometres below the earth’s surface.
To dig any further, researchers are looking for new ways to drill through materials that have been squeezed by dozens of kilometres of overhead rock and then transport it back up to the surface.
Temperatures below the earth’s surface also pose an additional challenge for drilling technologies.
These tools would need to withstand temperatures that can exceed 180 degrees Celsius.
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One solution that Quaise has proposed is to use millimeter long waves of electromagnetic radiation to force atoms to melt together, a technology created by nuclear fusion researchers.
The company aims to use devices known as gyrotrons, that can efficiently produce continuous beams of electromagnetic radiation.
Quaise believes that by connecting a megawatt-power gyrotron to the latest cutting tools, they can drill through the toughest, hottest rock, down to depths of around 20 kilometers in a matter of months.
At such depths, the heat radiating from the surround rocks can go as high as 500 degrees celsius,
Such temperatures are enough to evapourate any liquid water pumped down there into a vapour-like supercritical state that’s ideal for generating electricity.
Quaise predicts that it will be able to manufacture field deployable models of their project within the next two years.
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