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Hammer drilling technology could help on bringing down drilling costs

Susan Petty and AltaRock team members on site at Newberry, September 2012 (source: AltaRock)
Alexander Richter 18 Dec 2014

In the recently announced partnership between AltaRock Energy and ON Energy, a new drilling technology called hammer drilling will be utilised and hopefully commercialise EGS technology.

Details emerge on an earlier announced partnership between AltaRock Energy and On Energy, which is the U.S. supplier of Korean drilling company Hanjin D&B.

As reported by GigaOm, AltaRock and On Energy plan to use a new type of “hammer” drilling tech that could help commercialize enhanced geothermal energy.

“The new tech is called a “water hammer” drilling machine, and it pulverizes rock by rapidly hammering down on the rock surface with brute force and creating huge vibrations. This is different than the more commonly used drilling that employs a rotary bit (rotating cones) to grind down rock. When it comes to hard rock surfaces, rotary drilling can be really slow, the bit wears out quickly and needs to be replaced, and it’s been difficult to achieve the depths of more than 10,000 feet that EGS needs. AltaRock has faced problems with drilling through hard rocks at its sites in the past.

Hammer drilling, by contrast, can more quickly and more economically achieve these deep drilling depths. The problem with hammer drilling in the past, though, has been that companies have mostly used air to deliver pressure to the bits. That has required extremely large air compressors and pushed up the price of hammer drilling.

Hanjin D&B’s water hammer drill uses water (hence the name) to deliver pressure to the drill bit, and the companies say this innovation means the water hammer drill can deliver wells of more than 12,000 feet, at ten times the speed of conventional drilling, and up to 50 percent of the cost. This video shows the water hammer drill in action.”

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Source: GigaOm