Digging subterranean tunnels for hundreds of kilometers, sometimes just a few meters from buildings, is a challenging endeavor. Massive tunneling equipment will be required for this task. With all of its supporting equipment, these enormous mechanical creatures can weigh more than 6,000 tons and measure more than 150 meters in length. These tunneling machines are capable of excavating underground in sedimentary, metamorphic, and volcanic rock, as well as sand, gravel, clay, and other materials, wherever a tunnel needs to be made.
The Boring Company, which is now digging tunnels for Elon Musk’s cutting-edge high-speed transportation project, the Hyperloop, has just joined the market. Elon Musk is well known for his electric Tesla vehicles and SpaceX rockets. These robots have been seen in the Barcelona subway, the M-30 ring road in Madrid, the Guadarrama, Pajares, and Butarque tunnels. Bertha, a machine with a massive 18-meter diameter, was recognized as the largest boring machine in the world in 2013 and worked for years to dig a lengthy tunnel beneath Seattle, Washington, which was finished in 2017.
Another significant high-speed rail project, Crossrail, which spans 118 kilometers and includes 21 kilometers of tunneling beneath London’s streets, is characterized by the use of tunneling equipment. Depending on the type of terrain that needs to be excavated, the actual excavation and construction work is done in stages. This enormous machine excavates the ground and uses the removed material to maintain the tunnel’s front while the remaining material is removed along the already dug segment of the tunnel using an Archimedean screw.
The machine moves forward for a short distance before coming to a stop to allow the formation of the ring that will serve as the tunnel’s anchor. Large reinforced concrete panels or segments that have been manufactured in factories and delivered to the job site are used to achieve this. These parts fit together like jigsaw pieces thanks to a hydraulic or mechanical lifting mechanism that precisely adjusts each piece by millimeters. Bends or curves in the tunnel design can be designed thanks to the accuracy with which the panels are made and installed. Only periodic maintenance causes the tunneling machinery to stop working. To make sure everything functions properly, twenty-person teams work 12-hour shifts in the largest machinery.
Let’s take a look at Giant tunnel boring machine – America and Cʜɪɴᴀ sʜᴏᴄᴋed the world in the video below:
Source: Machine stage
Source: Machine stage