MIT scientists have proven that you can bore a hole in to granite and basalt with an electromagnetic frequency generating gyrotron. Applications include Enhanced Geothermal Systems. If you don’t need a giant oil powered drilling array to bore a hole then you could save a lot of energy, money and prevent some of the risks associated with brute force.
A gyrotron is a high-powered linear-beam vacuum tube that generates millimeter-wave electromagnetic waves by the cyclotron resonance of electrons in a strong magnetic field. Cyclotron resonance is a term used to describe the circular, spiraling motion of ions under the influence of a magnetic field.
In the quoted scientific journal “high temperature, full bore directed energy opening in rock is presented including energy requirements, rates of penetration, high temperature physics replacement of drilling mud, and diameter control.”
According to Harvard, millimeter-waves are suited for long distance, high power guided transmission straight into what constitutes typical borehole dimensions, however they do make it clear that deep high pressure induced absorption will ultimately determine whatever limits there are to depth.
Researchers heated granite and basalt specimens to very high temperatures ranging from between 2500 – 3000 degree C with a low power 10 kW, 28 GHz gyrotron. For reference – The surface of the sun is 5,505 °C.
Proposed applications include Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) enabled by an engineered heat exchanger (EHE) with a theoretical lifespan of 100 years. Enhanced geothermal systems are a more direct way of obtaining geothermal energy from impermeable rock by puncturing a hole in the Earth to create whats called an injection well, and then pumping water in to that well.
Eventually the water pressure builds up, and then a phenomena called hydroshearing fractures the rock, creating rifts between the injection well and a secondary borehole. As water rushes between these cracks our mantle heats it up so that when it pops out on the other side we can use heat engineered exchangers to harvest the energy, converting it to electricity. In this case a gyrotron powered directed energy device could bore holes for the injection well and secondary exit tunnel more effectively than giant drilling machines.
Made possible by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, MIT Energy Initiative, Impact Technologies LLC, and interaction with the MIT Rock Mechanics Laboratory.
Last week Elon Musk broke through the surface of Los Angeles with his boring machine.