New tool to allow downhole hammer drilling for high-heat geothermal conditions

Screenshot of Downhole Hammer article by Sandia National Laboratories
Alexander Richter 11 Oct 2016

In a collaboration of Sandia National Laboratories and Atlas Copco, downhole hammer technology from oil, gas and mining industry has been adapted to be suitable in the high-temperature environment of drilling for geothermal projects.

A recent article in discusses a new downhole-hammer that allows to utilise a drilling technology from the oil and gas industry for geothermal drilling, despite the high-temperatures.

The technology has been developed in collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories and Atlas Copco. Having been used in the oil, gas, and mining industry downhole hammers “employ a rapid hammering action, like a jackhammer, in order to cut through rock”. The challenge for geothermal projects has been the high temperature in wells and therefore conventional design for this kind of technology was not usable until now.

Adapting existing technology with new materials and a dry lubricant solution it will work in high temperature environments of geothermal wells.

“The technology behind the new hammer is fundamentally the same, but Sandia worked with a Sweden-based company, Atlas Copco, in material selection and dry lubricant technology that will work in the high-temperature environment,” says mechanical engineer Jiann Su (6916), Sandia’s principal investigator on the project with Atlas Copco, which operates worldwide and makes specialized equipment and systems for drilling, mining, and construction.

DOE’s Geothermal Technology Office funded Atlas Copco as prime contractor on the project, and the company partnered with Sandia as the subcontractor.

“Part of what the DOE’s Geothermal Program is looking to do is help lower the cost of getting geothermal energy out to customers,” says Jiann. “Some of reducing the cost is lowering exploration and development costs, and that’s one of the areas we’re helping to tackle.”

For details see the link to the article below and the original announcement by Sandia Labs.

Source:, Sandia, Sandia Article from June 2016