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New Idea to Power the World With Unlimited Clean Energy

‘The total energy content of the heat stored underground exceeds our annual energy demand as a planet by a factor of a billion,’ says Quaise Energy's founder.

Illustration of drill endeavouring to reach Earth's core

With nuclear fusion being the poster boy for unlimited clean power still a decade away (as it has been for many years), it's good news to learn that another candidate for such a planet saving solution is on the table or, rather, a long way under it.

Enter Quaise Energy, which is developing a machine capable of digging the world’s deepest drill in an effort to potentially unlock enough renewable energy to power the entire planet. The US-based company is working on a rig that it hopes will reach 16km (10 miles) beneath the Earth’s surface in order to tap “inexhaustible clean energy” from geothermal heat in the crust.

The difficulties of drilling at those depths have meant tapping deep geothermal energy at scale has so far proved impossible. After boring through softer rock closer to the surface, Quaise Energy replaces traditional drill bits with milimetre wave energy (a bit like a microwave) that melts and vaporizes the harder rocks it encounters.

The technique was developed by researchers at MIT 15 years ago, and is finally ready to be taken out of the lab. However, like all such ambitious endeavours, there are still numerous hurdles to overcome but, at the very least, it does give cause for hope and optimism.

If successful Quaise Energy claims that any country on Earth could potentially become energy independent. The firm has already raised more than $63 million in an effort to commercialise the technology.

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