Technology Development and Field Trials of EGS Drilling Systems Geothermal Lab Call Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title Technology Development and Field Trials of EGS Drilling Systems
Project Type / Topic 1 Laboratory Call for Submission of Applications for Research, Development and Analysis of Geothermal Technologies
Project Type / Topic 2 Drilling Systems
Project Description A recent EGS well construction technology evaluation has shown that drilling services and consumables can exceed 50% of total wellbore construction costs. Conventional geothermal drilling is hampered by the challenges of hard rock, fractured formations, high temperatures, and the frequent loss of circulated drilling fluids to the formation. In the past, this drilling difficulty has been a point of distinction between geothermal and oil and gas applications. Recently this distinction is less pronounced as the oil and gas industry encounters more difficult drilling conditions. This blurred distinction can benefit the geothermal industry as technology developed for oil and gas, backed by significant research and testing, can be adapted for use in geothermal drilling. This project proposes to introduce two mature oil and gas drilling technologies for use in geothermal well construction: Percussion Hammers and PDC Bits. Pneumatic down the hole hammers (DTHH) are routinely used in the mining industry and the oil and gas industries for penetrating hard formations. PDC bits are another rock drilling technology that has not been adopted for geothermal drilling, largely due to past reliability issues and higher purchase costs. These technologies will be specifically tailored for use in geothermal drilling and demonstrated on a production geothermal drilling project.
State New Mexico
Objectives Develop EGS drilling system based upon existing rock penetration technologies, Percussion Hammers and polycrystalline diamond cutting (PDC) bits.
Awardees (Company / Institution) Sandia National Laboratories

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-PS36-09GO99017
DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $981,000.00
Total Project Cost $981,000.00

Principal Investigator(s) David W. Raymond

Targets / Milestones - Laboratory evaluation of design and improvements of geothermal drilling systems.

- Demonstrate and validate geothermal drilling for geothermal drilling community.
- Improve existing pneumatic hammer technology for geothermal drilling.
- Improve PDC bit design for geothermal drilling.

Location of Project Albuquerque, NM

Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs