In late July and early August 2019, a team of three from IDP-WI traveled to Juneau, AK, for a beneficial testing opportunity with the Juneau Icefield Research Program (JIRP). The team consisted of IDP Mechanical Engineer Grant Boeckmann, IDP Field Support Manager Anna de Vitry, and IDP contractor and Warehouse Manager Jim Koehler. Utilizing the well-established logistics of the JIRP program, the IDP team was able to test new Thermal Drill modifications including a new 300-meter drill cable, a prototype ethanol delivery mechanism, and new heat rings. The team successfully reached 294 meters and was able to refine operating procedures for the equipment.
The Thermal Drill uses a ring-shaped heating element to melt, as opposed to mechanically cut, an annulus around the ice to be cored. This method of drilling is useful in ice warmer than about -10° C, where electromechanical drills are at risk of becoming stuck in the borehole from melting and refreezing of the surrounding ice. The Thermal Drill collects 76 mm (3-inch) diameter cores and has previously performed well in British Columbia, Alaska, and in southeastern Greenland.