About the project
The technical feasibility of DeepU technology is demonstrated at the laboratory scale. In the DeepU project’s drilling vision, a laser drill head is combined with special drill strings sustaining the coupled action of laser and cryogenic gas, responsible for melting, evaporating and cooling even the hardest rocks. Specific temperature control analysis and innovative laser lenses, able to convey the heat and sustain multilateral drilling, guarantee liquefaction and vitrification of the rocks from the ground surface to significant depths. The resulting glazed layer on the borehole walls acts as a case so that the heat exchanger is ready immediately after drilling. Then, a U-tube system ready to exchange heat with the underground becomes the primary tool to exploit or store geothermal energy, meeting power and thermal energy production needs.
- Develop and calibrate the drilling technology by selecting a cryogenic gas able to cool in a controlled manner the rock melted by a laser; developing an innovative lightweight drill string able to host the gas and the laser at the same time; developing specific temperature control analysis and innovative laser lenses able to convey the heat and to sustain multilateral drilling;
- Determine the physical-thermal phenomena affecting different kinds of rocks to assess the borehole wall vitrification and integrity;
- Evaluate the legislative aspects and environmental standards related to the innovation proposed;
- Define the DeepU geothermal exploitation potential, including economic analyses, based on case studies modelling.
The high-risk innovation presented in DeepU has the potential to make geothermal energy systems accessible anywhere in a targeted and demand-oriented manner, offering a complementary approach and an alternative solution to traditional energy storage and production, decentralising the power supply also in areas where this is currently deemed uneconomic.
The project, coordinated by the University of Padua, started on 1 March 2022 and will end on 28 February 2025.
UNIVERSITÀ DEGLI STUDI DI PADOVA
The University of Padova (UNIPD), founded in Italy in 1222, is one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious seats of learning. The geothermal research group belonging to the Department of Geosciences is at the forefront of the research in geothermal energy, especially related to rocks’ thermal properties characterisation, the effect of heat transport, underground heat storage, geothermal heat pumps and deep closed loop wells. UNIPD is the DeepU project’s coordinator and is directly responsible for the petrophysical characterisation of the rocks.
RED SRL is a spin-off company of the Italian CNR that designs and installs heating and cooling systems for buildings, in particular on geothermal based and other renewable energy sources. RED SRL is also active in the energy management of small and medium-sized enterprises and owns an Italian patent on an innovative co-axial borehole heat exchanger. In DeepU, RED SRL leads the exploitation and market planning activities, including the IPR management strategy.
Prevent is a German engineering company with affiliated prototyping and manufacturing in the field of plasma drill and laser drill strings, working on optimising lightweight multiple drill pipes and drill heads for plasma and laser deep hole drilling. The company has a long experience in the fields of drilling technology, shaft sinking technology, electrics and electronics, as well as drill rig engineering. For the DeepU project, it develops and manufactures different multiple drill pipes and drill heads for laser drilling with different cryogenic gases.
FRAUNHOFER GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FORDERUNG DER ANGEWANDTEN FORSCHUNG EV
Fraunhofer IAPT takes part in the Fraunhofer community of currently 76 institutes in Germany with over 30.000 employees, which is the world’s leading organisation, especially for applied research. At its location in Hamburg, Fraunhofer IAPT conducts R&D in the field of laser technologies and additive manufacturing. In the DeepU project, Fraunhofer IAPT is responsible for developing the combined laser and gas process and designing the drilling head using 3D printing technologies.
GeoServ is a leading Irish and international SME that specialises in providing tailored services to the geothermal, natural resource, energy and environmental sectors. Its specialist services are focussed on delivering turnkey geothermal systems for heating, cooling and energy storage applications and providing project management at the exploration and development stages. GeoServ coordinates the activities related to regulatory and environmental aspects of the DeepU project.
CONSIGLIO NAZIONALE DELLE RICERCHE
The Italian National Research Council (CNR) is a public organisation with Italy’s largest network of institutes. It carries out, promotes, spreads, transfers and improves research activities in the main sectors of knowledge growth. Its Institute of Geosciences and Earth Resources (IGG) has provided technologies and solutions for geothermal assessment for many decades and promotes geothermal applications and innovation in the leading international platforms. CNR-IGG is responsible for the DeepU resource modelling and the dissemination and communication activities.