Ultra-Deep Drilling Could Provide Us With Limitless Geothermal Energy

An article on reddit recently grabbed my attention. It was about a company designing ultra-deep drilling procedures and equipment with the help of fusion technology. Ultra-deep drilling is much, much deeper than traditional oil drilling, or fracking. It’s theoretically capable of drilling through the Earth’s crust to get to the molten core. Why would anybody want to drill that deep? The answer is truly limitless energy for the entire world. More on that later.

Humans have tried to drill into the molten core of the Earth before, most notably from 1970 to 1989. The Kola Superdeep Borehole reached a depth of 40,318 feet (7.636 miles) in 1989 before drilling complications made further progress impossible. Today, the company Quaise seeks to solve these drilling issues with newly designed drilling tech that spawned from nuclear fusion technology (originally used for the pathway to fusion power). The tech is called a gyrotron, which “generates electromagnetic waves in the millimeter-wave part of the spectrum.” Gyrotrons are being used in ultra-deep drilling because these electromagnetic waves it emits are powerful enough to quickly vaporize rock thanks to the insane temperatures generated. Calculations suggest a drill rate of 230 feet per hour.

Quaise splintered off from MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center as its own business. Its focus is on drilling into the ultra-deep geothermal area of our planet using gyrotron assisted drills. The temperatures of the Earth’s molten core at depths of 12.4 miles (where Quaise plans on drilling to for their geothermal projects) is projected to be around 932 °F, which is hot enough to power steam turbines that generate clean energy. Normally, steam turbines would be turned by the heat generated from burning other fuels like coal, oil, or nuclear energy, but unlike these fuels, the heat from Earth’s core never stops being generated because it never runs out. Therefore, you don’t have any carbon dioxide or methane emissions, or potentially harmful nuclear waste to worry about. Just endless amounts of cleanly generated electricity.

While it took the Kola Superdeep Borehole about 20 years to reach the depth it did, Quaise thinks they can reach their depth goal in around 100 days using the gyrotron drill technology. The first geothermal power plant powered by the Earth’s core is estimated to be finished by the year 2026. From there, Quaise plans on (hopefully) converting the entire world’s energy supply to run on clean, limitless geothermal power. The beauty of drilling through the Earth’s crust is that any location on the planet can be tapped. You don’t have to worry about location specific drilling like you would for oil. No country would have a monopoly on the world’s energy generation anymore! And to top it all off, all existing coal and oil burning power plants can be easily retrofitted into geothermal power plants. This effort will generate millions of new jobs and help drastically cut global greenhouse emissions. Check out Quaise’s vision for the future in the video below.


Taylor Design Blog

By Chris

Senior Front-end Developer