Why can we not simply dig a deep hole to harness the immense heat energy of the earth core?

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The interior of the earth is extremely hot: eventually we reach molten iron!
Why can we not simply dig down until it gets hot enough, and build a heat engine as a power source.
Is it just an economic issue, that it isn’t efficient to dig such a deep hole? Or is it technically impossible to dig an immensely deep hole, given the pressures involved?

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440 Dart Racer

Environmentalists will oppose it. It was tried in Montana and the Tree Huggers shut the project down.

amtghota

It has been tried a few times, mankind can’t even bore through the crust, let alone the mantle. It is because of the extreme pressure involved, the hole closes in from the sides, crushing any man-made tools or supports that might hold it open.
It isn’t necessary anyway as volcanoes bring the lava to the surface, it would probably be a matter of money – the coal industry sales in that area would diminish, corporate big-wigs will make sure that never happens.
Good idea though!

Albert S

actual there are in a small scale like for heating a single family home, the reason it is not popular is the initial investment is higher than most people willing to pay. I believe a geothermal well is around $50K to start with. Obviously depends on what kind of soil under the house.

the nothing

What type of material do we have that can withstand the immense heat of the earths core.
It is so hot it would melt any tools we have out of any materials we have.
Which would make it impossible to harness
So impossible as of yet, but good idea…

Dash Rendaer

The depth of the outer crust varies significantly. In some places it is relatively close and geothermal power is cheap, and subsequently, very popular. But in many places it is not economically feasible to drill down for heat.
And as far as trying to get to the core, were the weight of continents is trying to crush you, good luck.

ag_iitkgp

If such a hole is made and assuming it was possible to harness the energy then we would kill the Earth, the heat inside keeps the earth geologically active and gives rise to plate tectonics, geysers, volcanoes and earthquakes.
These seemingly destructive foeces have a great role to play in keeping life alive.

hyperhealer3

do you have any idea of how dense the core is? The gravitational pull as you approach it would be tremendous… The air pressure alone would be enough to kill you. As of yet, man has not walked the deepest depth of the ocean floor… there’s not way that we can go through earth to get to the core.
If this were viable, you see people digging into volacnos first… that’s where the magma comes from.

georock1959

We already do! Its called geothermal, for example the Beowawe geothermal field in Lander County, Nevada has drill holes over 1,000 meters deep and it produces about 10 megawatts of clean electricity.
For geothermal energy to be efficient, the geothermal gradient (“Q”) has to be high enough to make it economically feasible. Not every place on earth is suitable for that.
Ground source geothermal systems are also quite common in North America, and have a pay-back time of 7-10 years. Their real advantage is that they can produce cooling and heating.

QFL247

The biggest issues with that are 1) we can’t get very far (the deepest is just a few miles) and 2) it would be hard to sustain the hole for very long because of collapse due to pressure and that the hole would eventually equilibrate (or at least approach) to lower temperatures and be useless.

carbonates

We already do generate energy this way, and we should be using this method much more. It is called geothermal energy. There are a few variations on the methods, but it has great potential.
There are quite a few commercial power plants in the US now powered by geothermal power, including locations in California, Nevada, Hawaii, and Utah. I understand there is geothermal drilling in British Columbia in Canada as well. Here is the DOE link:
http://www1.eere.energy.gov/geothermal/powerplants.html
A really great geothermal application that can be used for individual buildings (like homes) and is cost-efficient are geothermal heat pumps. These utilize the ground temperature in near-surface ground to generate heat and air conditioning.
http://www.geoexchange.org/
Unocal is one of the world’s largest geothermal energy providers, making geothermal energy from the volcanically active area in Indonesia and the Phillipines:
http://www.unocal.com/geopower/index.htm
There is currently work being done in Texas to utilize old oil wells for geothermal power production. A group at Southern Methodist University has compiled a large amount of data on geothermal heat gradients, and utilization of geothermal in oil fields:
http://www.smu.edu/geothermal/
Here are their heat flow maps for the US:
http://www.smu.edu/geothermal/heatprod/heatflow/heatflow.htm

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