Plasma blasting of rocks and rocks-like materials: An analytical model
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Plasma blasting technology (PBT) is a potential alternative to chemical blasting and mechanical cutting methods for fragmentation of natural rocks, concrete, geopolymers, and other rocks-like materials. We present an analytical model of PBT addressing currently inadequate understanding of the dynamics of shock waves generation and propagation versus the electric energy release conditions. The proposed model describes the operation of the electrical discharge circuit, plasma channel initiation and expansion, and the generation and propagation of shock and pressure waves in the destructible solid. The dynamics of the power generator energy conversion into the plasma channel and into the wave of mechanical stresses in the solid are considered and the main factors determining the efficiency of the method, namely the pulse generator circuit parameters, exploding wire length, and shock wave-transmitting media, are evaluated. Solid fracture efficiency is shown to depend on the pressure pulse wave shape which, in turn, is determined by the rate of electrical energy deposition into the plasma channel. Increasing the exploding wire length leads to an earlier formation of the tensile tangential stresses and to their higher magnitude and thus facilitates material's fragmentation. The use of acoustically stiff media for shock wave transfer marginally improves material's fracture efficiency. Preliminary verification of the functionality of the model was carried out using commercial concretes, with good agreement between the analytically derived and experimentally obtained values. The results demonstrate that the proposed model allows to simulate PBT fracture over a wide range of instrumental and process conditions and can therefore be used for PBT process design, thus realising environmental and economic benefits through significant savings in time and experimental confirmation costs.
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