WorldWide Drilling Resource

10 MAY 2022 WorldWide Drilling Resource® Introducing a Tunnelling Robot for the Hardest Formations on Earth Adapted from Information by Petra Petra, the first robotics company capable of undergrounding critical utilities through hard geologies, announced the successful completion of a 20-foot demonstration tunnel through the hardest rock on earth. The project involved a new hard rock boring robot invention. According to Petra, their robot could transform the way utilities are buried by tackling the hardest problem in underground construction: how to bore utility tunnels reliably and cost-effectively through nightmare geologies. The ability to place utilities underground is essential to meet the increasing global demand for energy, and to avoid grid-related disasters in a changing climate. Petra developed the thermal drilling method which can uniquely bore 60-inchdiameter microtunnels through hard rock, making it possible to create utility tunnels through previously impenetrable geologies. While conventional microtunnelling machines are purpose-built for a single diameter, Petra is capable of boring a range of diameters between 20-60 inches. This technique also offers the first reverse-tunnelling technology, making machine maintenance and cutter head rescue possible. “As the former President of SoCal Edison, I oversaw capital projects in urban, suburban, and rural mountainous areas. A robot that can bury utility facilities in bedrock would have been a game changer for us,” said Bob Foster, a Petra advisor. “In cities, it would allow us to bury utilities in bedrock, below the existing infrastructure. In mountainous areas, like the Sierra foothills, it would allow us to bury utilities in the most fire-prone regions of our state.” “Petra successfully completed a 20foot bore through hard Sioux Quartzite, where we averaged an astounding oneinch-per-minute . . .” said Ian Wright, Petra’s CTO and a Tesla cofounder. The U.S. national grid, established more than 40 years ago, wasn't built to withstand climate change or new strains on the system. Aboveground power lines have caused thousands of wildfires in recent years and are frequently destroyed during violent storms. Without a new approach, the stresses will only get worse. The Energy Information Administration projects global energy demandwill increase by 50% in the next 30 years, requiring more transmission lines. Amore resilient infrastructure will rely on underground power lines. Petra addresses vulnerabilities in cities to prevent man-made disasters. Most cities have a maze of existing utility infrastructure housed in soft soil layers just below the surface. Going into bedrock below existing infrastructure allows engineers to reduce the complexity and vulnerabilities of urban utility projects. C&G Like articles like this?