Grain-Scale Failure in Thermal Spallation Drilling
Geothermal power promises clean, renewable, reliable and potentially widely-available energy, but is limited by high initial capital costs. New drilling technologies are required to make geothermal power financially competitive with other energy sources. One potential solution is offered by Thermal Spallation Drilling (TSD) - a novel drilling technique in which small particles (spalls) are released from the rock surface by rapid heating. In this paper, we discuss results from a new modeling effort investigating thermal spallation drilling. In particular, we describe an explicit model that simulates the grain-scale mechanics of thermal spallation and use this model to examine existing theories concerning spalling mechanisms. We will report how borehole conditions influence spall production, and discuss implications for macro-scale models of drilling systems.
DOE Project Number: LLNL FY12 AOP2
DOE Project Lead: Greg Stillman