TBM tunneling in extremely hard and abrasive rocks: Problems, solutions and assisting methods

极硬极高磨损岩石中的 TBM 隧道施工: 问题, 解决方案和辅助破岩方法


Extremely hard and abrasive rocks pose great challenges to the past and ongoing TBM projects by increasing cutter wear and reducing penetration rates. A considerable amount of research has been conducted to improve the performance of TBMs in those challenging grounds by either improving the capacity of TBMs or developing assisting rock breakage methods. This paper first highlights the challenges of hard and abrasive rocks on TBM tunneling through case studies. It then presents the development of hard rock TBMs and reviews the technologies that can be used individually or as assistance to mechanical excavators to break hard rocks. Emphases are placed on technologies of high pressure waterjet, laser and microwave. The state of the art of field and laboratory research, problems and research directions of those technologies are discussed. The assisting methods are technically feasible; however, the main challenges of using those methods in the field are that the energy consumption can be over 10 times high and that the existing equipments have robustness problems. More research should be conducted to study the overall energy consumption using TBMs and the assisting methods. Pulsed waterjet, laser and microwave technologies should also be developed to make the assistance economically viable.


极硬极高磨损岩石将增大 TBM 刀具磨损、 降低掘进速率, 给施工带来极大挑战. 为了应对该类地层, 设备制造商和研究人员通过提高 TBM 性能和开发辅助岩石破碎方法, 进行了大量探索. 本文首先通过案例分析, 概述了极硬岩中 TBM 施工的诸项挑战; 其次, 综述了硬岩 TBM 的技术突破和各种可以用于独立/辅助破碎硬岩的方法; 而后, 详细阐述了高压水射流、 激光和微波辅助破岩的机理、 实验室研究、 现场应用以及未来需要开展的研究方向. 整体而言, 这些辅助破岩方法在技术上是可行的, 然而其独立破岩比能通常是机械破岩比能的 10 倍以上, 因此需要研究辅助方法-机械联合破碎极硬岩的比能, 另外需开发脉冲型水射流、 激光和微波技术, 使其应用更有经济性.

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This work was financially supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Chinese Central Universities (Grant Nos. 3205009419 and 3205002001C3) and the Innovative and Entrepreneurial Doctor of Jiangsu Province, China. The authors also would like to express their gratitude to the handling editors and the three anonymous reviewers for their critical comments.

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ZHENG Yan-long provided the concept and edited the draft of manuscript. HE Lei edited the draft of manuscript. All authors replied to review comments and revised the final version.

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Correspondence to Lei He 何磊.

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Foundation item: Projects(3205009419, 3205002001C3) supported by Fundamental Research Funds for Central Universities, China

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Zheng, Yl., He, L. TBM tunneling in extremely hard and abrasive rocks: Problems, solutions and assisting methods. J. Cent. South Univ. 28, 454–480 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11771-021-4615-z

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Key words

  • hard and abrasive rocks
  • tunnel boring machine
  • waterjet
  • laser
  • microwave


  • 极硬极高磨损性岩石
  • 隧道掘进机(TBM)
  • 高压水射流
  • 激光
  • 微波