Innovative packing and logging tools win US DOE Geothermal Manufacturing Prize


Geothermal Manufacturing Award winners with their awards (source: US Department of Energy)

Two teams from Houston, Texas have been selected as winners of the DOE’s American-Made Geothermal Manufacturing Award.

Two teams from Houston, Texas have been selected as Geothermal Manufacturing Award winners by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO). Each winning team received $500,000 in cash and up to $200,000 to field test their innovations.

The American-Made Geothermal Manufacturing Prize is a $4.65 million competition that inspires innovators to use 3D printing or additive manufacturing methods to address the challenges associated with operating sensitive equipment in harsh environments. difficult geothermal sources. Teams quickly developed, tested and revised prototypes using additive manufacturing to support the advancement of geothermal tools and technologies. Focusing on manufacturing innovation, DOE invests in improving performance, reducing costs, and expanding clean energy deployment.

During the prize, launched in January 2020, teams participated in three progressive competitions to propose a solution, design it and create a prototype. The finalists presented their innovations at the annual Geothermal Rising conference in Reno, Nevada. The winning teams and their projects are as follows:

  • Downhole Emerging Technologies (DET) Team has developed an all-metal, recoverable packing system designed for the high temperatures, high pressures and corrosive environments of geothermal wells. The partnership resulted in the largest components additively fabricated in Inconel by Proto Labs Inc. and the development of the Diamond Extreme Temperature Isolation Packer (ETIP).
  • Team Ultra-High Temperature Logging Tool developed a logging tool using a labyrinthine heat sink to reduce thermal emissivity and increase exposure time of temperature-sensitive electronic components. Oak Ridge National Laboratory used a powder bed laser fusion technique to fabricate the heatsink design, with the goal that the technology would address limitations regarding the maximum temperature and lifespan of electronics in the logging and measuring tools. The team also worked closely with Sandia National Laboratories to test the recording prototype in a high temperature environment.

Harsh geothermal environments (high temperatures, nearly impenetrable rocks and corrosive fluids) pose significant challenges for the manufacture of tools, components and equipment. These tools and equipment have high manufacturing costs because the small U.S. geothermal market leads to low production volumes and harsh conditions shorten equipment life.

Additive manufacturing can help improve the performance of geothermal tools and equipment by supporting the identification of high-performance materials, the creation of complex components, and the rapid development of prototypes, leading to rapid advances in geothermal manufacturing.

Source: US Department of Energy

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