National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Energy Production

Picture of Deep Well Drilling Rig

Sensors and Electronics for Deep-Well Drilling

Silicon carbide’s ability to function in hotter environments will facilitate safer and more efficient drilling of deeper oil, natural gas, and geothermal energy production wells.

The drilling of today’s energy production wells rely on silicon-based semiconductor electronics and sensors at the drill head to provide critical guiding information about the physical status of the head as well as the rock formations being drilled. As energy production demands continue to drive drilling towards greater depths and faster drilling rates, drill-head operating temperatures are expected to rise beyond the operational limits of silicon. SiC sensors and circuits are expected to enable critical telemetry capability at drill-head temperatures greater than 300 C expected in future drilling of energy production wells.