Interesting Engineering headline: A new plasma boring robot can dig tunnels 100 times faster and 98% cheaper
Earthgrid plans to re-wire grids across the U.S. at record speed and at a fraction of the cost.
By Chris Young
Jul 20, 2022
Unlike conventional boring machines, which typically use massive cutting wheels to slowly excavate tunnels, Earthgrid’s robot blasts rocks with high temperatures to break and even vaporize them via a process called spallation.
The machine can run on electricity, meaning it can also be emissions-free, depending on how energy is sourced. Earthgrid also claims that its system, which doesn’t need to come into contact with the rocks directly as it excavates, is so fast and cheap it will open up a whole host of possibilities. In other words, projects that were once deemed economically unfeasible will now be possible.
Earthgrid is currently operating on pre-seed funding, and it is developing its “Rapid Burrowing Robot (RBR)”, a spallation boring robot with several 48,600 °F (27,000 °C) plasma torches mounted on large discs.