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Title: Deep Geothermal Drilling Using Millimeter Wave Technology. Final Technical Research Report

Abstract

Conventional drilling methods are very mature, but still have difficulty drilling through very deep,very hard and hot rocks for geothermal, nuclear waste entombment and oil and gas applications.This project demonstrated the capabilities of utilizing only high energy beams to drill such rocks,commonly called ‘Direct Energy Drilling’, which has been the dream of industry since the invention of the laser in the 1960s. A new region of the electromagnetic spectrum, millimeter wave (MMW) wavelengths at 30-300 giga-hertz (GHz) frequency was used to accomplish this feat. To demonstrate MMW beam drilling capabilities a lab bench waveguide delivery, monitoring and instrument system was designed, built and tested around an existing (but non-optimal) 28 GHz frequency, 10 kilowatt (kW) gyrotron. Low waveguide efficiency, plasma generation and reflected power challenges were overcome. Real-time monitoring of the drilling process was also demonstrated. Then the technical capability of using only high power intense millimeter waves to melt (with some vaporization) four different rock types (granite, basalt, sandstone, limestone) was demonstrated through 36 bench tests. Full bore drilling up to 2” diameter (size limited by the available MMW power) was demonstrated through granite and basalt samples. The project also demonstrated that MMW beam transmission losses through high temperaturemore » (260°C, 500oF), high pressure (34.5 MPa, 5000 psi) nitrogen gas was below the error range of the meter long path length test equipment and instruments utilized. To refine those transmission losses closer, to allow extrapolation to very great distances, will require a new test cell design and higher sensitivity instruments. All rock samples subjected to high peak temperature by MMW beams developed fractures due to thermal stresses, although the peak temperature was thermodynamically limited by radiative losses. Therefore, this limited drill rate and rock strength data were not able to be determined experimentally. New methods to encapsulate larger rock specimens must be developed and higher power intensities are needed to overcome these limitations. It was demonstrated that rock properties are affected (weakening then strengthened) by exposure to high temperatures. Since only MMW beams can economically reach rock temperatures of over 1650°C, even exceeding 3000°C, that can cause low viscosity melts or vaporization of rocks. Future encapsulated rock specimens must provide sufficiently large sizes of thermally impacted material to provide for the necessary rock strength, permeability and other analyzes required. Multiple MMW field systems, tools and methods for drilling and lining were identified. It was concluded that forcing a managed over-pressure drilling operation would overcome water influx and hot rock particulates handling problems, while simultaneously forming the conditions necessary to create a strong, sealing rock melt liner. Materials that contact hot rock surfaces were identified for further study. High power windows and gases for beam transmission under high pressures are critical paths for some of the MMW drilling systems. Straightness/ alignment can be a great benefit or a problem, especially if a MMW beam is transmitted through an existing, conventionally drilled bore.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [2];  [2]
  1. Impact Technologies LLC, Tulsa, OK (United States)
  2. MIT (Massachusetts Inst. of Technology), Cambridge, MA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Impact Technologies LLC, Tulsa, OK (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Geothermal Technologies Office (EE-4G)
OSTI Identifier:
1169951
Report Number(s):
DE-EE0005504Final
DOE Contract Number:
EE0005504
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
15 GEOTHERMAL ENERGY; 04 OIL SHALES AND TAR SANDS; 11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; Drilling; Direct Energy Drilling; High Energy Beams Millimeter Waves; Gyrotron; Geothermal Wells; Nuclear Waste Storage Wells

Citation Formats

Oglesby, Kenneth, Woskov, Paul, Einstein, Herbert, and Livesay, Bill. Deep Geothermal Drilling Using Millimeter Wave Technology. Final Technical Research Report. United States: N. p., 2014. Web. doi:10.2172/1169951.
Oglesby, Kenneth, Woskov, Paul, Einstein, Herbert, & Livesay, Bill. Deep Geothermal Drilling Using Millimeter Wave Technology. Final Technical Research Report. United States. doi:10.2172/1169951.
Oglesby, Kenneth, Woskov, Paul, Einstein, Herbert, and Livesay, Bill. 2014. "Deep Geothermal Drilling Using Millimeter Wave Technology. Final Technical Research Report". United States. doi:10.2172/1169951. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1169951.
@article{osti_1169951,
title = {Deep Geothermal Drilling Using Millimeter Wave Technology. Final Technical Research Report},
author = {Oglesby, Kenneth and Woskov, Paul and Einstein, Herbert and Livesay, Bill},
abstractNote = {Conventional drilling methods are very mature, but still have difficulty drilling through very deep,very hard and hot rocks for geothermal, nuclear waste entombment and oil and gas applications.This project demonstrated the capabilities of utilizing only high energy beams to drill such rocks,commonly called ‘Direct Energy Drilling’, which has been the dream of industry since the invention of the laser in the 1960s. A new region of the electromagnetic spectrum, millimeter wave (MMW) wavelengths at 30-300 giga-hertz (GHz) frequency was used to accomplish this feat. To demonstrate MMW beam drilling capabilities a lab bench waveguide delivery, monitoring and instrument system was designed, built and tested around an existing (but non-optimal) 28 GHz frequency, 10 kilowatt (kW) gyrotron. Low waveguide efficiency, plasma generation and reflected power challenges were overcome. Real-time monitoring of the drilling process was also demonstrated. Then the technical capability of using only high power intense millimeter waves to melt (with some vaporization) four different rock types (granite, basalt, sandstone, limestone) was demonstrated through 36 bench tests. Full bore drilling up to 2” diameter (size limited by the available MMW power) was demonstrated through granite and basalt samples. The project also demonstrated that MMW beam transmission losses through high temperature (260°C, 500oF), high pressure (34.5 MPa, 5000 psi) nitrogen gas was below the error range of the meter long path length test equipment and instruments utilized. To refine those transmission losses closer, to allow extrapolation to very great distances, will require a new test cell design and higher sensitivity instruments. All rock samples subjected to high peak temperature by MMW beams developed fractures due to thermal stresses, although the peak temperature was thermodynamically limited by radiative losses. Therefore, this limited drill rate and rock strength data were not able to be determined experimentally. New methods to encapsulate larger rock specimens must be developed and higher power intensities are needed to overcome these limitations. It was demonstrated that rock properties are affected (weakening then strengthened) by exposure to high temperatures. Since only MMW beams can economically reach rock temperatures of over 1650°C, even exceeding 3000°C, that can cause low viscosity melts or vaporization of rocks. Future encapsulated rock specimens must provide sufficiently large sizes of thermally impacted material to provide for the necessary rock strength, permeability and other analyzes required. Multiple MMW field systems, tools and methods for drilling and lining were identified. It was concluded that forcing a managed over-pressure drilling operation would overcome water influx and hot rock particulates handling problems, while simultaneously forming the conditions necessary to create a strong, sealing rock melt liner. Materials that contact hot rock surfaces were identified for further study. High power windows and gases for beam transmission under high pressures are critical paths for some of the MMW drilling systems. Straightness/ alignment can be a great benefit or a problem, especially if a MMW beam is transmitted through an existing, conventionally drilled bore.},
doi = {10.2172/1169951},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = 2014,
month =
}

Technical Report:

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  • This report covers the technical work in Phase I of this DOE-Nuclear Program STTR Fast Track project. All key tasks were successfully performed, new tasks were added to utilize DOD-AFRL’s 95 GigaHertz (GHz) gyrotron in Phase II, while other lesser tasks were left for Phase II efforts or were requested to be made optional. This research adds to our understanding of using MMW power to melt and vaporize rocks and steel/ metals and laid plans for future testing in Phase II. This work built upon a prior DOE project DE-EE0005504 that developed the basic waveguide setup, process and instruments. Inmore » this project we were investigating the use of MMW to form rock melt and steel plugs in deep wells to further isolate highly radioactive nuclear waste in ultra-deep basement rocks for long term storage. This technology also has potential for deep well drilling for nuclear storage, geothermal and oil and gas industries. It also has the potential for simultaneously sealing and securing the wellbore with a thick rock melt liner as the wellbore is drilled. This allows for higher levels of safety and protection of the environment during deep drilling operations. The larger purpose of this project was to find answers to key questions in progressing MMW technology for these applications. Phase I of this project continued bench testing using the MIT 10 kilo-Watt (kW), 28 GHz frequency laboratory gyrotron, literature searches, planning and design of equipment for Phase II efforts. Furnace melting and rock testing (Tasks 4 and 5) were deferred to Phase II due to lack of concurrent availability of the furnace and personnel at MIT. That delay and lower temperature furnace (limited to 1650oC) caused rethinking of Task 4 to utilize coordinated rock selection with the DOD testing in Phase II. The high pressure and high power window design work (moved to Phase I Task 3 from Phase II Task 20) and Additive materials and methods (Tasks 7 & 8) performed in Phase I may become patentable and thus little detail can be provided in this public report. A version of that new high pressure, high MMW power window may be built for possible Phase II testing at the DOD site. Most significantly, additional tasks were added for planning the use of the Department of Defense, Air Force Research Laboratory’s (DOD-AFRL’s) System 0 gyrotron in Phase II. Specifically added and accomplished were multiple discussions on DOD and DOE-MIT-Impact goals, timing between ongoing DOD testing, outlining the required equipment and instruments for rock testing, and terms for an agreement. That addition required a visit to Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, New Mexico to talk to key DOD-AFRL personnel and management. A DOD-Impact-MIT charter (i.e., contract) is now being circulated for signatures. Also added task to Phase I, MIT designed the critical path reflected power isolator screen for Phase II testing. To ensure compatibility, that design was computer simulated for the expected heat load distribution and the resulting temperature increase. Advancing the MMW testing up to the optimum 95 GHz and 100kW (5X higher) power levels was stated in the original proposal to be a key required development step for this technology to achieve prototype drilling, lining, and rock melting/ vaporization for creating sealing plugs.« less
  • This DOE Nuclear STTR project DE-SC001238 investigated the use of MMW directed energy to form rock melt and steel plugs in deep wellbores to further isolate highly radioactive nuclear waste in ultra-deep basement rocks for long term storage. This current project builds upon a prior DOE project, DE-EE0005504, which developed the basic low power, low 28 GHz frequency waveguide setup, process and instruments. This research adds to our understanding of using MMW power to melt and vaporize rocks and steel/ metals and laid plans for future higher power field prototype testing. This technology also has potential for deep well drillingmore » for nuclear storage, geothermal and oil and gas industries. It also has the potential for simultaneously sealing and securing the wellbore with a thick rock melt liner as the wellbore is drilled, called 'mono-bore drilling'. This allows for higher levels of safety and protection of the environment during deep drilling operations while providing vast cost savings. The larger purpose of this project was to find answers to key questions in developing MMW technology for its many subsurface applications.« less
  • The primary object of this series of experiments is to investigate in detail the variation in both magnitude and direction of the minimum compressive earth stress (S3) with depth.
  • Research on the millimeter waves produced by rotating electron beams in rippled magnetic fields has been pursued under Department of Energy sponsorship since July 1, 1984. This research is being conducted as a collaborative effort between researchers at the University of Maryland and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In this regard, the University of Maryland is the prime contractor and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the subcontractor, although actual research responsibilities and expenditures are shared about equally between the two groups. The goals of this research program is to investigate the production of millimeter and submillimeter radiation by themore » interaction of a rotating electron beam with a rippled magnetic field. The device is most easily described as a circular geometry free electron laser (FEL), in which the rotating beam interacts with a periodic wiggler field produced by samarium cobalt magnets placed interior and exterior to the beam. The potential advantages of such a device include: (1) a more compact configuration than that of a linear FEL; (2) a continuous recirculation of the beam electrons through the wiggler field, thus providing a longer effective wiggler region; and (3) internal feedback resulting from the recirculation of the electromagnetic wave. This last feature may mean that the device can operate as an oscillator rather than an amplifier, as in the case of linear FEL's.« less