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Drilling tech co. with Houston HQ to partner on European geothermal power plant

GA Drilling opened its Houston office in 2013 to tap into the region’s oil and gas industry. Photo via Getty Images

GA Drilling, a provider of geothermal drilling technology whose U.S. headquarters is in Houston, is teaming up with a European energy company to develop a geothermal power plant in Germany.

GA Drilling and ZeroGeo Energy, a Swiss company specializing in renewable energy, say the 12-megawatt Hot Dry Rock Geothermal Power Plant (Project THERMO) is the first of several geothermal power and geothermal energy storage projects they’re planning in Europe. GA Drilling will supply technology for Hot Dry Rock, and ZeroGEO will operate the plant.

“The need for clean baseload power is real, and geothermal has the highest potential to deliver that safely and securely. We’re excited to be collaborating with ZeroGeo to help address the power needs in Europe,” Dusan Kocis, co-founder and chief operating officer of Slovakia-based GA Drilling, says in a news release.

GA Drilling opened its Houston office in 2013 to tap into the region’s oil and gas industry.

Last year, GA Drilling conducted the first public demonstration of its latest deep drilling tool, ANCHORBIT. GA Drilling says it developed the tool to cut the cost of deep geothermal drilling by doubling drilling speeds and extending the life of drill bits.

GA Drilling performed the ANCHORBIT test at Nabors Industries’ technology center in Houston. Nabors, a drilling contractor based in Houston, is using GA Drilling’s technology in its drilling operations.

In 2022, Nabors invested $8 million in GA Drilling.

“Given the expected sharp growth in global energy consumption over the next decades, the world will require an even sharper growth in sustainable energy supply. I am convinced that geothermal energy will be a key contributor to the necessary increase in clean energy generation,” Anthony Petrello, chairman, president, and CEO of Nabors, said in an announcement about the GA Drilling investment.

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A View From HETI

The work is "poised to revolutionize our understanding of fundamental physics," according to Rice University. Photo via Rice.edu

A team of Rice University physicists has been awarded a prestigious grant from the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Physics for their work in high-energy nuclear physics and research into a new state of matter.

The five-year $15.5 million grant will go towards Rice physics and astronomy professor Wei Li's discoveries focused on the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), a large, general-purpose particle physics detector built on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, a European organization for nuclear research in France and Switzerland. The work is "poised to revolutionize our understanding of fundamental physics," according to a statement from Rice.

Li's team will work to develop an ultra-fast silicon timing detector, known as the endcap timing layer (ETL), that will provide upgrades to the CMS detector. The ETl is expected to have a time resolution of 30 picoseconds per particle, which will allow for more precise time-of-flight particle identification.

This will also help boost the performance of the High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC), which is scheduled to launch at CERN in 2029, allowing it to operate at about 10 times the luminosity than originally planned. The ETL also has applications for other colliders apart from the LHC, including the DOE’s electron-ion collider at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, New York.

“The ETL will enable breakthrough science in the area of heavy ion collisions, allowing us to delve into the properties of a remarkable new state of matter called the quark-gluon plasma,” Li explained in a statement. “This, in turn, offers invaluable insights into the strong nuclear force that binds particles at the core of matter.”

The ETL is also expected to aid in other areas of physics, including the search for the Higgs particle and understanding the makeup of dark matter.

Li is joined on this work by co-principal investigator Frank Geurts and researchers Nicole Lewis and Mike Matveev from Rice. The team is collaborating with others from MIT, Oak Ridge National Lab, the University of Illinois Chicago and University of Kansas.

Last year, fellow Rice physicist Qimiao Si, a theoretical quantum physicist, earned the prestigious Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship grant. The five-year fellowship, with up to $3 million in funding, will go towards his work to establish an unconventional approach to create and control topological states of matter, which plays an important role in materials research and quantum computing.

Meanwhile, the DOE recently tapped three Houston universities to compete in its annual startup competition focused on "high-potential energy technologies,” including one team from Rice.

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