Design Engineering

McGill researcher awarded $1.5M to support cleaner demolition technology development

By DE Staff   


Professor says non-explosive technique will make excavation cheaper, safer and more environmentally friendly.

Natural Resources Canada announced it will invest more than $1.5 million in a project to validate and test a new method for rock breakage. The project’s leader – McGill University professor Hani Mitri, Director of Mining Engineering at McGill University, and founder of McGill Mine Design & Numerical Modelling Laboratory – says he expects the technologies and methods developed will revolutionize mining and tunneling.

“The goal of this project is to create, test and validate a revolutionary method for rock fragmentation for underground mining and tunnelling projects,” said Professor Mitri. “The method uses newly modified soundless chemical demolition agents and innovative rock drilling patterns that together facilitate rock breakage for excavation work without the use of explosives. This technology will revolutionize mining and tunnelling by achieving a more efficient, far safer, and more environmentally friendly technique for rock fragmentation.”

At present, the mining industry primarily uses drilling and blasting with explosives to excavate underground mine space such as shafts, ramps and drifts. However, this traditional process imposes rigorous safety procedures and requires additional ventilation to exhaust blast-induced fumes after each blast to dilute the gas fumes released.

Mitri’s project intends to use chemical demolition agents, similar to a powdery cement, that exerts pressure in the rocks when it expand, causing the rocks to break apart. In addition to avoiding the noise, vibrations and flying rocks associated with explosives, he says this new method will also significantly reduce the cost of demolition projects, as there is no need to ventilate after operations.


The project is funded via Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Growth Program, which invests in clean technology research and development projects in Canada’s energy, mining and forest sectors.


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