University of Wisconsin-Madison

Disposition - Miscellaneous: Independent Firn Drill (IFD)

  • Behold the Independant Firn Drill
  • Preparing to Lower Carrot Into Firn
  • Firn Drill Electronics
  • Firn Drill Side
  • Name Independent Firn Drill (IFD)
    Description This self-contained drill is used to penetrate through the porous firn layer with minimal losses and independent of deep drilling operations. The IFD drills firn holes to approximately 40 meters depth and stays a couple holes ahead of the deep drilling schedule.
    Tech Specs
    • Drills 60 cm diameter to max depth of ∼60 meters
    • Closed-loop glycol circuit, heated in storage tank by six 3-phase electric heaters, ∼8 kW each
    • Each heater has its own thermostat
    • Drill head ("carrot") transfers heat via copper tube to melt firn, and is supported and lowered by a spiral (single wrap) hose reel
    • Circuit consists of holding tank with overflow/fill tank, catch basin, charge pump, bag filter, primary pump, bypass manifold, 2-way hydraulic union, self-supporting hose (supply and return), carrot>
    • Circuit nominally operates at 12 GPM, 100 psig, 70°C supply tank temp
    • Instrumentation includes flow sensor, differential pressure across hose and carrot, tank temperature, return temperature, load cell on upper sheave, load cell directly above carrot
    • Variable frequency hose reel drive with pendant, hydraulic disk brake, and emergency stop
    • Requires external, independent generator unit to supply power. Service on IFD is two 100 amp, 480 VAC 3-phase disconnects in parallel. Works great with the CRREL generator at South Pole, which is rated at 165 kW at altitude.
    • IFD can be towed with CAT 287
    • Approx. weight 13,500 lb.