Laser-Mechanical Drilling for Geothermal Energy

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OPEN 2009
Littleton, Colorado
Project Term:
01/15/2010 - 09/30/2013

Technology Description:

Foro Energy is developing a unique capability and hardware system to transmit high power lasers over long distances via fiber optic cables. This laser power is integrated with a mechanical drilling bit to enable rapid and sustained penetration of hard rock formations too costly to drill with mechanical drilling bits alone. The laser energy that is directed at the rock basically softens the rock, allowing the mechanical bit to more easily remove it. Foro Energy's laser-assisted drill bits have the potential to be up to 10 times more economical than conventional hard-rock drilling technologies, making them an effective way to access the U.S. energy resources currently locked under hard rock formations.

Potential Impact:

If successful, Foro Energy's technology would be a key enabler of economical access to the estimated over 100,000 megawatts of baseload geothermal electrical power in the U.S. by 2050.


Increased access to domestic energy sources like geothermal and natural gas would help break U.S. dependence on foreign energy sources.


Geothermal resources are a clean, renewable source of baseload electrical power.


Cost-effective access to domestic energy resources could help spur expansion of the U.S. geothermal and natural gas industries.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Timothy Heidel
Project Contact:
Dr. Joel Moxley
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

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