Matt and Sean discuss a Death Star we can all be excited about… that’s drilling with nuclear fusion technology, a gyrotron, for affordable geothermal energy.
Watch the Undecided with Matt Ferrell episode, “Why This Fusion Tech May Be a Geothermal Energy Breakthrough”: https://youtu.be/g8sjdOjNxIE?list=PLnTSM-ORSgi4dFnLD9622FK77atWtQVv7
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I’m Sean Farrell. I’m Matt’s older brother. I’m a writer. I write some stuff for adults. I write some stuff for kids. I’m also curious about technology. And luckily for me, my brother is Matt of undecided with Matt Ferrell, Matt, how you doing? That’s no
moon. I’m doing
good. How about you? I’m doing okay. And this episode was most, the commentary around this episode was, wow.
This is amazing. It reminds me of this movie. question around. Wow. This is neat. Remember this movie? And there were different movies that were referred to some people Uhhuh went with the star wars references. Like that’s not, that’s not a moon. Other people were referring to the movie, the core, which, oh God.
Yeah. And also ran that came out during the heyday of, Hey, what if the world ended movies, which are making a resurgence lately? I think, but the aspects of this technology. Struck me the most are it really suddenly makes things that seem like they should be impossible. Just very pedestrian in a yes.
Really weird way. Yeah. Yeah. So I wanna break this down a couple of different ways, but first I wanted to share this comment from Al AEA who wrote. Three days ago, he wrote in to say, Hey Matt, when the subject of geothermal came up, I pretty much already knew the company you were going to talk about. I’m one of cases, new employees, and I can tell you I’m really excited to work for a company with such a great vision of the future.
I personally believe this technology is not a stop gap. Repurposing people, equipment and facilities is the embodiment of sustainability. Best of all, my well operator buddies get to keep their jobs. And they can stop teasing me about owning a hybrid thanks for the good content and keep it coming. And he’s edited to say, I saw the gyro gyro Tron in person, and that thing is gonna rock wink.
Yeah. So he touches on a bunch of the things that I wanted to talk about, which were in your research. Do you have any information about the size of. The drilling industry, roughly, like what amount of this new tech, what amount of the currently operating drilling infrastructure would simply be able to transition over this?
Is it conceivably a hundred percent or is there going to be a change as a result of one of the things that you talked about in the video and the developers of this technology talked about, if you can drill. in, let’s say one 10th of the time. Yeah. Then do you arguably only need one 10th as many drill teams if they can do or do you can drill more?
Well, you could drill more, but is there that much demand? Are there people running around screaming? Like I need this hole and I need it now. Well, so. I
am I’m I’m getting geothermal in my new house. I’m building. So I need to drill. There you go. yeah.
Yeah. So I guess, I guess the availability of supply actually could increase demand in that sense.
If this becomes a technology that allows people to do more and more of what you’re doing, then I could see demand staying high. It won’t
though. I don’t know how I can’t, I didn’t look into how big the, the drilling industry is. But after talking to Carlos, who’s from the D drilling industry, he basically in the conversation with the, with me, alluded to the fact that the skills are transitional, that you can go from an expertise in mechanical drilling to this.
So there’s a lot of people working in an industry that can very easily, easily just shift over to this, but this is not going to like. Replace mechanical drilling. Right. Because I don’t know if you picked up on it, but there’s, they will still use Quas will still be using mechanical drilling to drill down to the basement rock.
Right. And then once they hit there, then they flip over to the gyro Tron and start boring a hole to the center of the earth using their death Ray. Right. So it’s not gonna like for my geothermal, uh, well that we’re gonna be drilling. It’s a 300 foot deep. Well, it’s like, we’re not gonna be getting outta Jo Tron and drill 300 foot deep hole.
It would still be a mechanical drill. Are you disapp
disappointed by that a little bit,
a little bit. It wouldn’t be, I’d be lying if I said no, but it’s, it’s, it’s gonna be complimentary to what already exists and then there’s gonna be a lot of. Easy transition in the industry. It sounds like to, to something like this, as
you just mentioned, traditional drilling, getting through the sedimentary layer and then the next step being using the gyro Tron.
One of the things that as we were, as I was watching the video. I kept thinking, oh my God, what is this gonna do for earthquakes? What is gonna happen? Is this like fracking? And I was reassured by two things. The first being, this is not like fracking in that you are not pumping something down into the hole to then expand cracks to then extract something.
Correct. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The fact that this is a self-sealing. Drill is really quite fascinating. The fact that the, the, the developer of this, he seemed rather taken by the fact that it creates this glass tube as it goes down. And that, that helps reinforce the structure of. All of all of that.
Are you talking
about Paul WASK? Yeah. Paul Wasco it.
Yeah. Yeah. So the alleviation of concerns of it is this gonna be exacerbating cracks? Is this going to be doing something similar to what fracking does that was alleviated? And then by the end of the video, the discussion of, well, you currently have to drill for geothermal in places which are tectonic plates, tectonic plate, weak points in order to get to that.
Geothermal heat. Yeah. If now distance down is no hindrance and you can go in a place where you don’t have to worry about that impact. We could start seeing these in parts of the world where right now geothermal isn’t even considered and yep. That was reassuring, but I also found myself thinking it’s not gonna stop people from drilling down for geothermal in those weak
Correct? Well, the, the thing is like I did a previous video on geothermal power. With mechanical drilling a while back. And the earthquake issue is a significant issue. Like there are countries that have basically said we’re pausing all exploration drilling on this because holy crap, the last time we did this, it caused massive earthquakes, but they’re drilling in regions.
Like you talked about where there’s tectonic activity and you’re kind of triggering it. If you could drill a hole, 10 kilometers down 20 kilometers down in the middle of Iowa, where there’s no risk of a tectonic plate shifting, that’s a completely different ballgame. And then this is also very different from chemical drilling and how it self seals, the hole.
It’s not like fracking. It’s gonna have a very different impact on what’s happening to the hole as you’re drilling. So it’s like, It still needs to be tested out and proven out, but both Paul and Carlos were very confident when they were talking to me about like, they really do not think it’s gonna be an issue because they can drill in areas where there is no risk of earthquakes.
And as they start doing this and proving out that, yes, this is totally safe. Don’t panic. It’s like, it’ll just be like a snowball rolling downhill, right. More people will wanna get in on this. But it’s those first few projects where they have to prove it out to get the, a.
and the potential transition of currently standing power plants mm-hmm from being, it seemed like they were pointing out that you could take pretty much any existing power plant and conceivably next door drill down and then start pulling out geothermal is there.
A limit to what the geothermal might be able to provide. Like, is it as ongoing and to the power levels that you would see from current power plants that might be, oh yeah. Petroleum based
or, yeah, if you, if you cold burning deep enough. Yeah. It’s all about the temperature. You can get deep enough and you can get to the temperatures that are required for the amount of power that you need to generate.
You can, you can make it, you can scale it to whatever you need to take. Take it back to. Geothermal heating and cooling for your home. Like what I’m doing, you basically are drilling the number of Wells that you would need to achieve the heating efficiency that you require. So for a small home, like where I’m living, I only have to drill one hole 300 or so feet down.
If I live in a bigger home that requires more heating capacity, I might have to have two or three Wells. Dr. Drilled that are 300 feet down. Yeah. So it’s something similar for this. It’s like you could drill, you might need to drill several Wells in a certain location. to achieve the, the amount of heat that you require to produce, however many megawats or gigawatts of electricity you need, but you can do it.
So it’s like, it’s all just about what, what’s your power requirements? How much do you wanna generate? How many Wells does that require? It’s like, that’s basically what you’re trying to. Yeah. To do so it’s like, you can, the thing about it though, is it’s, this would be for base load power plants. This is not gonna replace like gas, peaker plants, which you can scale up and down really quickly.
This is like a good alternative for something like nuclear, you know, where it’s like, you’re just trying to give a base load supply to the, to go the grid. This is a perfect replacement for that.
Right. And to be clear and you can correct me, obviously, if I’m wrong. What you are doing is not energy production.
You are using geothermal as a warming and cooling, but it’s taking advantage of the natural temperatures below ground, as opposed to accessing heat that you would then use for entry production, which is what might happen at a power plant.
Yeah. Yes. It, it is different, but it’s also like I’m not gonna use the right terminology that people are gonna yell at me for about to say, and I apologize, but it’s like, there’s a difference between like electricity and power.
Yeah. And so it’s kind of, you’re tapping into the heat to generate, to create steam, to turn a turbine, to generate electricity. Right. And for me, I’m tapping into the consistent temperature or heat of the earth to heat and cool my home. So it’s. It’s just what you’re doing with that temperature. That you’re what, what’s your goal?
What are you trying to achieve and why do you need it? Right?
Yeah, that’s what I meant it. And the difference being you could not. Simply go down to the depth that you are going in your home and do anything with a power plant. That’s the point is that what you’re doing by accessing the temperatures? They mentioned at the deepest level that they consider being able to go.
The temperatures down there were above 700 degrees Fahrenheit. Mm-hmm . If you’re able to tap into that and bring that back up, then you’re in a position where you can start boiling water and creating steam. You can be driving steam turbines. With those temperatures. That’s what I meant is that you’re not accessing anything underground, which is then turning into now, my turbine is running now, my generator is going now I can do this with my house.
You are simply taking that. That warmer water mm-hmm and it’s getting pumped through the house, which is allowing you to take advantage of the natural heating effect.
Yeah. I’m transferring heat. I’m not converting it into electricity,
right? Yep. So with this being so new, what hurdles do they have to go through for this to be an allowed drilling mechanism?
They’re still in a testing phase, correct? Mm-hmm mm-hmm . And they’re just now stepping off into the testing outside the lab. Is that what they’re currently? Yes. Just starting
to do they’re doing their, they’re doing their first pilot study with a power company. Where they’re gonna be drilling in, uh, basically a defunct full volcano, essentially, cuz it’s gonna be a sh rather shallow hole.
They have to drill and it’s gonna be their first kind of like, you know, rubber meets the road, put it to its test, drill thousands of feet and see, see how it works and work out the kinks from that. So, but yeah, it’s gonna be their first real world study where it’s gonna actually be used to generate electric.
Yes beyond that. What does it take? You can’t run that test, have them say, well, it worked. That was great. And now we’re gonna go start selling their services to companies around the country. What sort of regulatory steps are ahead of them? And in other words, what kind of timeframe are they looking at? Are we looking at 10 years from now?
This’ll be an industry that’s out there or are we looking at shorter, longer?
I it’s gonna depend on where you’re talking about because there are areas of the world already. Like I think it’s Iceland is, um, pretty much geothermal power. Yeah, yeah. Almost a hundred percent. So there are areas of the world that already have done geothermal drilling for power, and they’re still doing it.
So. those areas of the world that are already doing it. That’s a customer base that they can immediately go to right away. It really comes down to, I don’t know if regulations is gonna be a huge hurdle. It’s really the permitting. It’s like getting permissions from a state or a country to do this, especially if the state or the country is kind of shy of like, we’re worried about, you know, earthquakes.
You can’t do that here. Yeah. So it’s like, I think that’s gonna be, the issue is permitting. But if this pilot study works and it works as well as they’re hoping it does, and it produces the electricity. It’s they say it’s gonna produce, I think they’re gonna have a, a easy salesmanship to find another power company that will work with their local regulatory commissions and get the permitting to do it there.
So it’s like, I think it’s gonna, each one will be easier than the previous one. Right? So this first one is obviously a big hurdle. The next one should be easier than this one if, if it works out. So I don’t think it’s gonna, I asked Carlos that and he was basically saying, you know, Hedging his bats. It’s like making a prediction.
Like that’s really tough. Is he a
geologist who doesn’t know the business talk?
No, it’s uh, my hunch is, this is like a decade long plan. We’ll see here right before. It’s like, even. A thing that you’re seeing in multiple locations. I have a feeling in the next three to five years, we’ll have a few of these under our belt to see how it’s working and where it’s working and all that kind of stuff.
And then it will start to kind of hockey stick and ramp up pretty quickly after that. Mm-hmm , if it works and
proves out just two final questions, this is another. Of your videos that worked beautifully in large part because you were interviewing directly with the members of these teams, both mm-hmm, the researcher at MIT and the head of the company.
And I’m curious, how did you find, how did this information about this technology come across your desk? How did you reach out? What was the process for you and get in touch with these people and how open were they to talking with.
Yeah, there was, there was two ways that this kind of came together at the same time.
There was a comment on one of my videos of somebody saying, Hey, Matt, you should look at qua. And at the same time, I had literally just read an article about using trons to drill and this company called Quas. So it was like, I found it by reading an article on my own. And then a comment on one of my videos said, Hey, look at this company.
And so when I saw it was like, I’m not alone. Am I interest in this? I was like, Hey, I’ll dig into this a little bit more. And that’s when I looked into qua found Paul Wasco who actually created it. And I reached out to both MIT and Quas, and I had worked previously with the, uh, press department from the fusion research lab at MIT.
When I did my, a video on the fusion break through the MIT had mm-hmm with their spark, uh, fusion react. . And so I already had a connection there that, so I emailed her because it was part of her purview. So it’s like, that’s kind of how it all kind of came together. So when I reached out to them, it was an immediate, like, yeah, sure.
Okay. We’ll see if we can get something lined up and everybody was really eager to talk about it. So it, it came, came together in a nice synergy and it was a nice, it was, it came together really well. Yeah. I’m, I’m really appreciative of their time too, to, to talk to me about this, cuz it really helps these videos when I can talk to the people who are actually doing the thing.
Yeah. It really helps.
Yeah, it’s very informative. It’s and it’s really interesting to put faces to things that are so new and so spectacular from a certain perspective. And then you see a guy who’s just like, yeah, this has been my job for 25 years. I’ve been thinking about this and nobody knew, and now here it is.
And now it’s having an impact on the world potentially. So that’s, it’s, it’s nice to be able to put a face.
And Paul was really cool. He was, he’s such a, you can tell he’s got like the equivalent of four or five of my brains. right. right. And he was a lot of fun to talk to, and he’s very passionate about this and he very proud of his work too.
And he should, he should be, he’s
very impressive. It’s remarkable. And all of that is also a good reminder to the listeners. Jump into the comments with your tips. Because you never know when the synergy will be lining up and Matt will be like, oh yeah, I’ve heard about that. And this commenter is on the right track and I’ll follow their, their, uh, breadcrumbs back to this interesting topic.
So jump into the comments. And my question for you on this particular episode is do you live in a part of the world where this kind of thing would be, would make you nervous? Do you live in a part of the world where you’re seeing geothermal as a, yeah. We’re not doing that right now. Cuz we’re worried about earthquakes or do you live in a part of the world where this kind of thing has never even been a consideration.
And do you think that there would be interest in your neck of the woods? Let us know in the comments you can of course jump into the comments on YouTube directly below the video or in the contact. The contact information is available in the podcast description. And don’t forget, you can support the show, not only by listening, which you’re doing right now.
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