The greatest limitation of the spallation process is its inability to spall (or to consistently spall) many rocks encountered in petroleum drilling and mining operations. The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology has conducted a series of experiments to investigate the possibility of expanding the use of the spallation process to the penetration of rocks generally considered not to be spallable. The methods used during this work were 1) spalling at temperatures below that produced by the stoichiometric burning of fuel oil and air, and 2) spalling by alternately heating and quenching the rock surfaces. No success was experienced in spalling at the lower temperatures, but initial tests showed the alternate heating and chilling system to be successful, particularly in penetrating travertine limestone. However, continued testing indicated that, unless the rocks are extremely uniform in composition, spalling will result in highly irregular holes or holes that cannot be directionally controlled.

Browning, J. A., 1982, “Flame Jet Drilling and Chambering to Great Depths in Crystalline Rock,” Report No. N00014-82-C-0249 to Defense Contract Administration.
Dey, T., 1984, “Rock Mechanics Theory of Thermal Spallation,” Los Alamos National Laboratory, Internal Memorandum ESS-5: 88–310.
Heard, H., 1960, “Rock Deformation,” GSA Memoir No. 79, pp. 193–266.
Job, F. R., 1957, “Application of Rocket Jet to Mining and Quarrying,” Jet Propulsion.
Rauenzahn, R. M., 1986, “Analysis of the Rock Mechanics and Gas Dynamics of Flame-Jet Thermal Spallation Drilling,” Ph.D. dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.
Tester, J. W., R. M. Potter, J. E. Mock, C. Peterson, H. Herzog, and J. J. North, 1995 “Advanced Drilling and Its Impact on Heat Mining,” Proceedings of the World Geothermal Congress, Florence, Italy.
Wilkinson, M. S., 1989, “Computational Modeling of the Gas-Phase Transportation Phenomena and Experimental Investigation of Surface Temperatures During Flame-Jet Thermal Spallation,” Ph.D. dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.
Williams, R. E., 1986, “Thermal Spallation Excavation of Rock,” 27th Symposium on Rock Mechanics, University of Alabama.
This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.