Novel and cost-effective drilling technologies for geothermal systems

Geothermal is currently the most underutilized of renewable resources, even though it is in principle, via engineered geothermal systems (also called enhanced geothermal systems, EGS), possible to exploit anywhere. A key issue with deep geothermal exploitation is its high cost, with 53% of the price of exploitation expended on drilling. This is especially true for deep EGS in hard rock (HDR – Hot Dry Rock), where cost increases due to increased drilling distance, increase in tripping times, harsher environments (temperature, pressure and geothermal fluid composition), reduced information (e.g. drilling blind) and time-to-information of lithology.

Now a European consortium gets together in a project to develop new drilling technologies to reduce the cost of drilling to large depths and at high temperatures. The target depth is 5 km, at temperatures of at least 250oC.

Figure: Sketch of a geothermal drilling system.

Specifically, the objectives of GeoDrill are to:

  • Develop a new Down-the-Hole (DTH) mud hammer (percussion drill)
  • Develop a drill monitoring system based on 3D printed sensors combined with simulators
  • Develop advanced materials and coatings to prolong lifetime of drilling components
  • Develop a Knowledge-Based System (KBS) to reduce technical, financial, and environmental risks and costs

12 partners from 7 different European countries will work together during 42 months to make this ambitious project real. Graphenea will be involved in the development of new materials, leading Work Package 2, primarily in the direction of integrating graphene as a component in matrices applied as coatings with improved resistance to abrasion, erosion, corrosion and impact.

The overall goal is to reduce drilling costs by 29-60%. The project will run for 42 months, having kicked off on April 3rd with a meeting of the consortium partners: (coordinator)

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 815319.

GeoDrill project website: