Phase 1 drill bit button retention testing.

In 2012, the partnership between Sandia and Atlas-Copco Secoroc was awarded a $3.4M DOE grant to develop a down-the-hole (DTH) hammer capable of low-cost, high-production drilling in the extreme heat of deep geothermal wells. The overall DOE goal is to increase the feasibility of geothermal energy production by lowering the cost and financial risk associated with it.

Atlas Copco and Sandia were awarded continuation of the project after successfully displaying the results of Phase 1 to an industry and government review panel. The remainder of the project will demonstrate that percussive drilling with compressed air is capable of consistently drilling to 3,000 m deep, at temperatures up to 300 °C  at rates exceeding conventional methods.