Loss circulation prevention in geothermal drilling by shape memory polymer

Musaab Magzoub, Saeed Salehi, Guoqiang Li, Jizhou Fan, Catalin Teodoriu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Geothermal formations are naturally fractured with large fracture openings and networks. This can often lead to frequent drilling fluid loss events which is a major contributor to the cost and non-productive time in geothermal drilling. Development of smarter technologies and methods to tackle problem lost circulation is vital for geothermal drilling cost reduction required for geothermal energy to be recognized as a competitive alternative energy source. Mitigation of this problem and other drilling problems such as stuck pipe can minimize overall project cost. In this paper, a thermoset shape memory polymer that can be activated by formation natural heat was assessed to seal near wellbore fractures in geothermal wells. The performance of the shape memory polymer (SMP) was evaluated using artificial fractures created in aluminum discs and cylindrical granite cores. Rheology and particle size distribution were considered. A novel testing setup was built for this work, which allows testing of sealing efficiency under dynamic conditions at high temperature. Analysis showed that the SMP has efficiently succeeded in forming a strong plug inside the fractures and stopped fluid loss at high sealing pressure. This smart loss circulation material can expand within the fractures to reduces non-drilling time and strengthen the wellbore in high-temperature drilling operations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101943
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • fracture
  • Geothermal drilling
  • granite
  • lost circulation
  • shape memory polymer
  • swellbore strengthening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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