\ TERRATEC TBM Breaks Through in Laos

TERRATEC TBM Breaks Through in Laos

terratec-laos On March 18, 2017, TERRATEC’s 5.74-m diameter H43 double-shield tunnel boring machine (TBM) broke through into a reception chamber on the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy Hydroelectric Project, in southern Laos, successfully completing an 11.5-km long drive for the project’s low-pressure headrace tunnel.

Mucking out with rolling stock, SELI Overseas achieved impressive production rates with the powerful TERRATEC machine during the course of the project – including a record-breaking single month advance of 1,005 m in July 2016 – allowing the contractor to finish excavation three and a half months ahead of schedule.

The machine faced several challenges while boring through the region’s mudstones, sandstones and siltstones, which required SELI Overseas and TERRATEC to collaborate closely over the course of the design, commissioning and operation of the machine.

The TBM’s cutterhead features 39 x 17 in. back-loading disc cutters and four large bucket openings. A 2,000-kW electric VFD main drive provided maximum speeds of 7 rpm in hard rock zones, while delivering a torque of 8,000 kNm to cope with a number of fractured fault zones along the alignment. In order to mitigate potentially difficult ground conditions within these fault zones, a high-power probe drill was installed within the TBM to conduct any drilling or grouting deemed necessary.

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The use of pea-gravel to backfill the annulus behind the project’s pre-cast hexagonal segment lining rings also prompted some unique design features, including a hydraulic lift within the pea-gravel bays on the back-up to lift and empty the gravel cars; and a double capacity pea-gravel pumping system to facilitate the anticipated high advance rates of the machine.

“This tunneling experience has been very good,” says Dario Vizzino, Project Director for SELI Overseas. “The TERRATEC TBM is very powerful and has performed extremely well. I think it is proof of the quality of the TBM, the team and also all of the systems that we chose for this project. TERRATEC deserves special appreciation for its support on site, as well as the attitude of all its staff. I can say that working with TERRATEC it feels really like one group and jointly we have achieved a wonderful result.”

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terratec-laosThe tunnel drive finished underground in a TBM disassembly chamber that was excavated by drill-and-blast. The entire machine will now be dismantled and its components will be brought all the way back through the tunnel.

The Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy Power Co.’s (PNPC) US $1.02 billion Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy Hydroelectric Power Project is located in an isolated area of national park on the Bolaven Plateau, in the south of the Laos People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), approximately 35 km northwest of the provincial town of Attapeu and 80 km east of the larger Mekong River town of Pakse.

PNPC is a consortium consisting of Korea’s SK Engineering and Construction (SK E&C), Korea Western Power (KOWEPO), Thailand’s Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding (Ratch), and Lao Holding State Enterprise (LHSE). SK E&C is undertaking the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the project, while Italian tunnelling specialist SELI Overseas was awarded the subcontract to excavate the TBM driven section of the headrace tunnel, along with the construction and operation of the project’s on-site pre-cast tunnel segment manufacturing facility.

A video featuring the breakthrough of TERRATEC’s Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy HEP Double Shield TBM can be found here.

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