Vertical Steering Borehole Drilling Tool Incorporating Formation Water Salinity and Fracture Zone Detection Sensing

Period of Performance: 06/13/2016 - 03/12/2017


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Aps Technology, Inc.
7 Laser Lane
Wallingford, CT 06492
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


The high-level radioactive nuclear waste resulting from mankind’s usage of nuclear fuels is extremely hazardous to the health and safety of people and living organisms, demanding long-time storage in a remote, yet benign, environment. The disposal of spent nuclear waste in deep crystalline basement rocks has been discussed and promoted in the public domain as a long-term solution to the permanent disposition of these materials. At proposed depths approaching 5 km, the desired physical environment must entail an essentially vertical borehole, very low formation porosities and permeabilities, the presence of either no or highly-saline formation water, and the absence of fracture zones. The Proposed Solution: The company has developed a steerable borehole drilling tool and has successfully shown in field tests its capability to steer a vertical borehole. During Phase 1, feasibility studies and functional and system architectural requirements will be generated to incorporate a natural gamma radiation sensor- to provide information concerning the presence of fracture zones - and a mud resistivity sensor to provide measurements of groundwater salinity. A communications system will also be developed that will enable real-time transmission of the borehole inclination and formation properties to the surface. During Phase II, the system will be designed and prototypes built and tested. Commercial Applications: The resulting commercial product has market applications beyond the drilling of nuclear waste disposal boreholes, including oil and gas exploration and development, groundwater studies, geothermal installations, and geophysical analyses of active fault zones.Key Words: Steerable drilling tool, borehole inclination, formation sensing, downhole communications, real-time data transmission, natural formation gamma radiation, formation water salinity