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US seeks faster geotehermal solutions

Atlas Copco Secoroc has announced that it has been awarded a $3.4M (£2.1M) grant from the US Department of Energy (DoE) to work with Sandia National Laboratories to develop new technology for faster drilling of geothermal boreholes.

According to Atlas Copco, geothermal has great potential as an environmentally friendly source of energy, but developments are constrained by the high cost of drilling the wells through hard rock. Through this joint research project the companies hope to develop down-the-hole hammers for this application which could quadruple penetration rates.

During the three-year project Atlas Copco Secoroc will design, develop, and test equipment. Sandia National Laboratories will provide computer models to evaluate hammer performance, materials and components. Sandia will also develop a high temperature test cell to evaluate hammer prototypes.

The grant is one of 32 research and design projects for geothermal power production funded through an initiative by the DoE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. These projects are designed to meet the challenge to generate 80% of US electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.

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