The geothermal site in Mol uses hot water taken from the substrate. But this water layer, at a depth of 4 km, is only available in the Kempen area of Limburg and Antwerp. How can we resolve this throughout the rest of Flanders? 

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VITO is currently working on a system that does not yet exist anywhere in the world in order to make this a reality. We pump water down ourselves in order to heat it up. We do this using large wells measuring 7 km in depth. The earth has a temperature of 250°C at that depth. We pump the heated water up again for heat and electricity.

Electro pulse drilling

Drilling a well of 7 km is no mean feat. Traditional drilling techniques take time, people and resources, and they have a major impact on the environment. After all, just think of the vibrations and noise. Eight people have been working full-time for nine months on the longest/deepest well on the geothermal site in Mol. Our aim is to do that 10 times faster using electro pulse drilling.

Instead of drilling mechanically, we drill electrostatically using two pieces of metal, between which an electric discharge occurs. This causes the stones to burst.


  • No wear: a traditional drill head needs to be replaced regularly because there is constant moving contact. But with electrostatic drilling, the head stays still and therefore does not wear out.
  • 10 times faster
  • Deep drilling possible: with electro pulse drilling, we can drill deep and we can also drill wells with larger diameters.
  • Horizontal and vertical: the drill works in all directions. The technique could, for example, also soon be used in the construction of tunnels, e.g. for a new metro line.


Drilling with electrostatic discharges also offers possibilities for the construction of a hyperloop. It was Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Managing Director of Tesla, who put the idea back on the table in 2013. The hyperloop is a new way to travel at almost supersonic speeds and transport goods through a vacuum tube. Due to the low air resistance, a capsule such as this containing people or goods reaches a speed of more than 1000 km per hour. Tests are being carried out on a global level to establish the commercial feasibility of this. VITO already has the right tools to construct the tunnels.