Robbins Double Shield digs the Andes
Feb 03, 2017
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The machine embarked on its journey on May 27, 2016, and has since excavated over 1,300 m (4,270 ft) of tunnel in total. The journey to machine launch was an arduous one, requiring shipment of TBM components and vehicle transport on unpaved, mountainous roads.
The Robbins Double Shield TBM is boring two sections of the intake tunnel, the first measuring 6 km (3.7 mi) and the second measuring 4.4 km (2.7 mi). A section between the two tunnels will be excavated by drill and blast to connect them, making the intake tunnel about 12 km (7.5 mi) in length. “This project brings an increase in energy production in the country, thus contributing to the overall improvement in the welfare of its citizens,” said Idigoras of the effect the completed hydropower project will have on surrounding areas.
The tunnel, located in the mountainous Maule Region of Chile, is being bored in two types of rock: sedimentary and volcanic. The rock has been tested at strengths up to 100 MPa (14,500 psi) UCS, with at least two fault zones - the first of which has already been traversed in rhyolite, andesite, tuff, and breccia. For Idigoras, the conditions are well-suited to Double Shield tunneling: “We have good quality medium to hard rock for Double Shield excavation overall,” he said. Despite that, some areas of challenging ground persist.
To cope with the conditions, including steadily increasing water inflows at rates of up to 3,500 l/min (925 gal/min), the contractor is utilizing cementitious grouting and chemical grouting with polyurethane and foam. Such ground conditioning techniques were anticipated and the Robbins Double shield was designed to effectively apply these techniques.
“After many months working in engineering, manufacturing, installation, and commissioning, we are proud to see this result. It would be impossible to name all the people who participated in this project thus far but they, as a whole, have managed to get the TBM started digging and boring well.”
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