WorldWide Drilling Resource

7 OCTOBER 2022 WorldWide Drilling Resource® Gyrotron Technology and Geothermal Wells: Part 1 Adapted from Information by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) There’s an abandoned coal power plant in upstate New York most people regard as a useless relic. But MIT’s Paul Woskov sees things differently. Woskov, a research engineer in MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center, notes the plant’s power turbine is still intact and the transmission lines still run to the grid. Using an approach he’s been working on for the last 14 years, he’s hoping it will be back online, completely carbon-free, within the decade. Quaise Energy, the company commercializing Woskov’s work, believes if it can retrofit one power plant, the same process will work on virtually every coal and gas power plant in the world. The company plans to vaporize enough rock to create the world’s deepest holes and harvest geothermal energy at a scale that could meet human energy needs for millions of years. They haven’t yet solved all the related engineering challenges, but Quaise’s founders set an ambitious timeline to begin harvesting energy from a pilot well by 2026. The plan would be easier to dismiss as unrealistic if it were based on a new and unproven technology; but Quaise’s drilling systems center around a microwave-emitting device called a gyrotron, which has been used in research and manufacturing for decades. “This will happen quickly once we solve the immediate engineering problems of transmitting a clean beam and having it operate at a high energy density without breakdown,” explained Woskov, who is not formally affiliated with Quaise, but serves as an advisor. “It’ll go fast because the underlying technology, gyrotrons, are commercially available. You could place an order with a company and have a system delivered right now - granted, these beam sources have never been used 24/7, but they are engineered to be operational for long time periods. In five or six years, I think we’ll have a plant running if we solve these engineering problems. I’m very optimistic.” Woskov and many other researchers have been using gyrotrons to heat material in nuclear fusion experiments for many years. It wasn’t until 2008, however, after the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) published a request for proposals on new geothermal drilling technologies, Woskov thought of using gyrotrons for a new application. “[Gyrotrons] haven’t been well-publicized in the general science community, but those of us in fusion research understood they were very powerful beam sources - like lasers, but in a different frequency range,” said Woskov. “I thought, why not direct these high-power beams, instead of into fusion plasma, down into rock and vaporize the hole?” As power from other energy sources has exploded in recent decades, geothermal energy has plateaued, mainly because geothermal plants only exist in places where natural conditions allow for energy extraction at relatively shallow depths no greater than about 400 feet beneath the earth’s surface. Woskov’s idea to use gyrotron beams to vaporize rock sent him on a research journey which continues to this day. With some funding from MITEI, he began running tests, quickly filling his office with small rock formations he blasted with millimeter waves from a small gyrotron in MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center. Around 2018, Woskov’s rocks got the attention of Carlos Araque who spent his career in the gas and oil industry and was the technical director of MIT’s investment fund. This opened a new world of possibilities for Woskov’s gyrotron experiments. Woslov and his samples in 2016. Courtesy of Paul Rivenberg. GEO WAYS TO OBSERVE BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH: l Share a story. Everyone from cancer survivors, family members, friends, caregivers, and medical professionals can share their perspectives on how cancer impacts their lives. Do an online search of Breast Cancer Awareness Month to discover various organizations with links to social media blogs, video platforms, and more. Every person’s story is unique, and they can be one more voice of victory against this disease. l Think pink. It is the color of choice for October's campaign. Some people change their website's background colors to pink for the month. Others simply wear pink to show their support. Many workplaces hold Pink Days to encourage coworkers to get involved in the fight against breast cancer. l Raise some money. October is the primary fundraising month for Breast Cancer Awareness. Hold a raffle, coordinate an event, or simply write a check. It all helps to fund life-saving research. BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH October 2022 Don’t Miss the October 15th Deadline! Reserve your spot for BUYERS MEET SELLERS Call 850-547-0102 or E-mail Jan@ or Sheryl@ Just ONE of the best DEALS going with the WWDR TEAM. Your company appears in print in the December issue and online TWELVE FULL months - December 2022 through November 2023!