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Scientists In Iceland Are Digging The World’s Hottest Borehole

They aim to harvest steam from 5000 feet under a volcano.

Krafla Power Station in Iceland, one of the country's many geothermal plants.
Krafla Power Station in Iceland, one of the country’s many geothermal plants. Ásgeir Eggertsson/CC BY-SA 3.0

What’s cooler than living on top of an active underground volcano? Oh, I don’t know—maybe drilling into the volcano’s core in order to renewably power your town. A team of geologists on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula is working on just that, digging a thin shaft thousands of meters into the lava fields in the hopes of harvesting volcanic energy.

The team—a group of scientists, industry, and government officials called the Iceland Deep Drilling Project—seeks to get 5,000 meters underground, where it can tap into the peninsula’s large reservoirs of superhot steam. Down there, the volcano-heated water can get up to about 932 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Once the drilling is complete it will be, by far, the world’s hottest borehole,” Digital Journal reports.

When the shaft is done, the steam will use it like a chimney, traveling up to the surface, where it will be transformed into electricity and through geothermal power plants.

Asgeir Margeirsson, CEO of the IDDP, said what we’re all thinking. “We have never been this deep before, we have never been into rock this hot before,” he told BBC Science on Wednesday. “But we are optimistic.” Steamy.

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