July 2, 2013 – COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The U.S. Dept. of Energy has approved Atlas Copco Secoroc's plan to move on to Phase 2 of a three-year research and development project. In 2012 Atlas Copco received a $3.4 million DOE grant to work with Sandia National Laboratories to create a down-the-hole (DTH) hammer design capable of low-cost, high-production drilling in the extreme heat of deep geothermal wells. The overall DOE goal is to increase the feasibility of geothermal energy production by lowering the cost and financial risk associated with this environmentally friendly means of power generation.
Although the grant was awarded in 2012, a mid-project review was required to release the remainder of the funds for Phase 2. Atlas Copco and Sandia National Laboratories were awarded the final phase after successfully displaying the results of Phase 1 to an industry and government review panel. This final phase will demonstrate that percussive drilling with compressed air is capable of consistently drilling to 3,000 meters deep, at temperatures up 300 degrees Celsius and at three times the drilling speed of conventional methods.
The grant is one of 32 research and design projects for geothermal power production funded through an initiative by the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. These projects are designed to meet the challenge to generate 80 percent of U.S. electricity from clean energy sources by 2035. Atlas Copco was awarded the second largest contract in the DOE initiative, which totaled $38 million.
"We eagerly await the outcome of this geothermal project," said Bob Fassl, business area president, Atlas Copco Mining and Rock Excavation Technique. "Atlas Copco already offers a wide range of products and services for geothermal development projects, and this is clearly a future growth market for the Group."