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Geo-Drill: Cost-effective drilling technology for Geothermal

Fri, 05 April, 2019

Geothermal is currently the most underutilised of renewable resources, principally due to the high costs associated with deep geothermal drilling. These high drilling costs are related to the increased drilling distance and tripping times, harsher environments (temperature, pressure and geothermal fluid composition), reduced information (e.g. drilling blind) and lithology. Following its long history of expertise and knowledge in coatings, material properties and performance, TWI has teamed up with experts in geothermal drilling technology including operators, specialists with experience in materials performance in harsh geothermal environments and development of graphene based materials and coatings, and simulation experts, to develop a novel and cost-effective drilling technology for geothermal systems.

Project Geo-Drill, funded by the European Commission H2020 programme under Research and Innovation (Grant agreement number 815319), aims to develop “holistic” drilling technologies that have the potential to drastically reduce the cost of drilling to large depths and at high temperatures. Geo-Drill will, thus, enhance the growth of geothermal energy as it will enable the exploitation of deep geothermal energy to generate electricity while significantly reducing the environmental impact during drill activity by reducing the capital expenditure (CAPEX). The project kicked-off on 3rd April with a consortium meeting hosted by TWI and will run for a period of 42 months.

The specific scientific and technical targets associated are:

  • 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.

The concept:

The Geo-Drill concept is based on three technology pillars: a) reduced drilling cost through hydraulic DTH fluid/mud hammer; b) advanced drill monitoring through low-cost and robust 3D printed sensors; c) improved component life through advanced materials and coatings. In the Geo-Drill project, the strength of these technologies will be combined to meet the unified objective of developing novel drilling technologies that will significantly reduce the cost of deep geothermal drilling, with a targeted depth of ~5 km and temperatures of ~250°C and higher. After development, optimisation, and integration of these technologies, the system will be validated in a relevant environment at the geothermal drilling research test site of a partner in Germany.

The consortium:

Geo-Drill consortium is of complimentary bodies from product developer to end user/geothermal drilling operator ID, engineering firms, universities and research institutes. These include TWI LIMITED (coordinator), HOCHSCHULE BOCHUM (Germany), GEOLORN LIMITED (UK), JARDBORANIR HF (Iceland), PRECISION VARIONIC INTERNATIONAL

LIMITED (UK), TECHNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS LTD (UK), FLOWPHYS AS (Norway), COMMISSARIAT A L ENERGIE ATOMIQUE ET AUX ENERGIES ALTERNATIVES (France), GEROSION EHF (Iceland), HASKOLI ISLANDS (Iceland), RINA CONSULTING – CENTRO SVILUPPO MATERIALI SPA (Italy), GRAPHENEA SA (Spain).

For more information please email:


contactus@twi.co.uk