Dec 11

In soft ground with very high water pressure or where ground conditions are granular (sands and gravels) so much so that a plug could not be formed in the Archimedes screw, Slurry Shield TBMs are needed. The cutterhead is filled with pressurised slurry which applies hydrostatic pressure to the excavation face. The slurry also acts as a transport medium by mixing with the excavated material before being pumped out of the cutterhead back to a slurry separation plant, usually outside of the tunnel. Slurry separation plants are multi-stage filtration systems, which remove particles of spoil from the slurry so that it may be reused in the construction process. The limit to which slurry can be ‘cleaned’ depends on the particle size of the excavated material. For this reason, slurry TBMs are not suitable for silts and clays as the particle sizes of the spoil are less than that of the bentonite clay from which the slurry is made. In this case, the slurry is separated into water, which can be recycled and a clay cake, which may be polluted, is pressed from the water.

Open face TBMs in soft ground rely on the fact that the face of the ground being excavated will stand up with no support for a short period of time. This makes them suitable for use in rock types with a strength of up to 10MPa or so, and with low water inflows. Face sizes in excess of 10 metres can be excavated in this manner. The face is excavated using a backactor arm or cutter head to within 150mm of the edge of the shield. The shield is jacked forwards and cutters on the front of the shield cut the remaining ground to the same circular shape. Ground support is provided by use of precast concrete, or occasionally SGI (Spheroidal Graphite Iron), segments that are bolted or supported until a full ring of support has been erected. A final segment, called the key, is wedge-shaped, and expands the ring until it is tight against the circular cut of the ground left behind by cutters on the TBM shield. Many variations of this type of TBM exist.


While the use of TBMs relieves the need for large numbers of workers at high pressures, a caisson system is sometimes formed at the cutting head for slurry shield TBMs. Workers entering this space for inspection, maintenance and repair need to be medically cleared as “fit to dive” and trained in the operation of the locks.

With more interested about mud management,please check at GN solids control

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