Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Method and Instrumentation for using a Drilling Pipe/Mud as a Single Conductor Transmission Line

Technology #7147

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Kamal Sarabandi
Managed By
Joohee Kim
Licensing Specialist, Physical Sciences & Engineering 734-764-8202
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending

Method and Instrumentation for using a Drilling Pipe/Mud as a Single Conductor Transmission Line

Exploratory drilling, such as in the oil, gas, and mining industries, has come to rely on the collection and transmission of many streams of real-time data to monitor and guide drilling. This has allowed safer, smarter, and more environmentally conscious drilling. As significant oil reserves become harder to find and reach, such data collection and transmission technologies become even more crucial for exploration and production (E&P) companies. Because of their advantages in efficiency and ability to drill in previously unfeasible locations, data-driven drilling methods, such as Managed Pressure Drilling (MPD), are expected to completely replace conventional drilling methods in the next decade1.

However, communication technologies currently used for the purpose of transmitting data from the drill bit to the surface, and vice versa, are subject to a variety of functionally limiting issues. Low data transmission rates, unreliable signal, signal attenuation in deep boreholes, frequent transmission/equipment failures, and the need for a huge investment in specialized equipment signal a commercial need in the industry. There remains a demand for low-cost, reliable two-way subterranean communication for the measuring-while-drilling (MWD) and logging-while-drilling (LWD) practices that are key to these data-driven methods of exploratory drilling.

A new drilling data transmission technology, described herein, uses the drilling pipe itself as a conductor, along which data can be reliably transmitted with significantly less path-loss than current technologies. This method works in tandem with a compact, low-profile “signal launcher” conformal to boreholes. This method is specifically designed to be low-cost (cost being the primary issue with wired drill pipe communication), and uses a mode of signal transmission, novel for drilling applications, showing superior reliability and transmission rate to mud pulse/acoustic/electromagnetic methods.


Exploratory drilling real-time data transmission for:

  • Measuring-while-drilling (MWD) data streams
  • Logging-while drilling (LWD) data streams
  • Two-way, subterranean communication


  • Low-cost
  • Compatible with existing equipment
  • Reliable signal transmission
  • Minimal signal attenuation allowing use in deep boreholes
  • Wireless technology

1Frost & Sullivan, Market Insights: Managed Pressure Drilling, 30 Dec. 2015