Inhabitat doesn’t in any way condone deep water drilling for oil and natural gas, but we understand that until renewable solutions even out with emissions-heavy energy resources, it will exist. With the horror of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill still on our minds, it was interesting to hear that the Department of Energy (DOE) is investing in technology that will help prevent another destructive catastrophe like the one in the Gulf of Mexico. Among the DOE’s promising new technologies are a 3-D-laser-imaging robot, research into creating drilling equipment strong enough to withstand natural disasters, an automatic electric-powered pressure protection system, and new systems for cementing wells that will reduce risks related to pressure at deep sea sites.

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The $9.6 million in funding will be split between six promising projects that each could have a hand in preventing future catastrophes. The projects are being selected by the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and will be added to their Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources Program. They address everything from the safety of the rig’s structure, to the prevention of uncontrolled oil flow, to the detection of leaks.

The total value of the projects is $26.4 million, with almost two-thirds of the funding provided by the research partners. With hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants being funneled into solar energy research, biofuel development, wind generation technologies and other renewable fields, a $9.6 million grant seems like a reasonable backup plan for the hopefully short future of deep water drilling for oil and gas.

Until we’ve stopped the wells entirely, it is a smart move to make sure they are operated with the safest, most well-developed equipment available.

Via Fast Company