MIT Tech Vaporizes Rocks to Go Deep For Massive Clean Energy Source

Peyton Plankton
By Peyton Plankton
MIT's Quaise Energy running a millimeter wave drilling, a field test. Credit: Quaise Energy

Quaise Energy is on a mission to change how we get energy from the Earth. They want to drill down 65,000 feet (20 kilometers) into the Earth. Why? Because down there, it’s hot—932 Fahrenheit (500 Celsius) hot. This heat can create steam just like in thermal power plants, but without the pollution.

This idea comes from Quaise Energy, a company born out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They’re not just talking about drilling; they’re talking about vaporizing rocks to reach the Earth’s deep energy.

The Potential of Deep Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy isn’t new, but Quaise Energy’s approach is. They believe they can generate huge amounts of clean energy. How much? Enough to match terawatt-scale energy generation. And they only need one percent of the land other renewable energies use. This is a big deal in a world looking for carbon-free energy solutions.

Right now, solar and wind power are in the spotlight. They’re key to meeting net-zero goals. But there’s a catch: they need a lot of space. Space that could be used for farms, houses, or forests. And as these projects move offshore, costs climb.

That’s where geothermal energy shines. It can produce lots of energy without taking up much room. The challenge? Drilling deep enough.

Breaking New Ground

Humanity’s deepest drill? The Kola Superdeep Borehole at 40,000 feet (12,262 meters), a project that took 20 years. Quaise wants to go deeper, hitting 65,000 feet. At that depth, the Earth’s intense heat can be used to power our world, offering a clean, constant energy source.

“A deep geothermal power plant can create 10x more energy than conventional geothermal resources, provide 24/7 baseload power, and unlock near-universal access to clean energy on a small land footprint,” Quaise Energy announced.

But traditional drilling won’t cut it.

The Power of MIT’s Lasers

Enter MIT’s fusion tech. Quaise plans to use MIT-developed lasers, originally for nuclear fusion, to blaze through rock. These high-power microwaves will vaporize rocks, making drilling deep into the Earth possible.

Quaise has a practical plan, too. They want to transform coal-fired plants. By using their tech at these sites, they can tap into the existing infrastructure and workforce. This isn’t just about making energy cleaner but also about smart, cost-effective transitions.

Recently, Quaise raised $21 million, with support from Mitsubishi and other investors. They’ll use this money to get a better understanding of the best places to drill. They’re planning surveys to pick the perfect spots for their pilot projects.

“Our mission is to create the most sustainable and prosperous energy future for all,” said Carlos Araque, Quaise Energy’s CEO and co-founder. “By accelerating our field operations and securing our supply chain, we are preparing deep geothermal to be the indispensable energy of the 21st century.”

Quaise Energy isn’t just drilling deeper; they’re thinking bigger. With their innovative approach, they’re paving the way for a clean energy revolution.

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