Researchers at the MISIS University have patented a device designed to create fractures in rock formations, allowing the release of combustible gases. The device also enables the measurement of stress in the surveyed well section, ensuring the safety of miners by mitigating the risks of sudden gas emissions.
This innovative device eliminates the need for explosive operations and chemical usage. In contrast to existing alternatives, the unit allows these measures to be carried out quickly without requiring high-pressure conditions to rupture the well walls.
“ALROSA has expressed interest in our development, and in response to their request, we conducted tests in a laboratory setting, simulating real mine conditions. The experiment results confirmed the effectiveness of our design. The high-strength steel of the prototype withstands loads of up to 269 MPa, easily tackling the tasks assigned to the device,” stated Vladislav Leyzer, the device developer and a postgraduate at the Department for Physical Processes of Mining Production & Geocontrol at NUST MISIS.
Currently, devices for such operations have limitations related to the extensive impact area on well walls and prolonged preparatory stages. The device developed by Vladislav Leyzer under the guidance of Vitaliy Eryomenko, Ph.D. (Engin.), Professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Director of the Applied Geomechanics and Convergent Mining Technologies Research Center at NUST MISIS relieves well walls from high stresses and allows for controlled release of combustible gas from the rock.
Before commencing operations, the well is examined for cracks. The geotechnology places the working device into the drilled well at the required depth. Under pressure, the working fluid and the expansion plates of the device widen existing fractures in the well and create new ones. The hazardous gas is released through the formed cracks, relieving stress in the rock mass.
“Precise targeting of the well walls helps to induce their rupture and develop cracks deep into the mass, reducing the risks of gas emissions. This can prevent accidents, saving the lives of miners and technical personnel in coal and mining companies. Prototyping experiments were successful, confirming the equipment’s functionality. Industrial trials at mining companies, which have shown interest in the innovative product, are ahead of us,” noted Vitaly Eryomenko, a co-author of the patent.
It’s essential to highlight that the initial request for the development of equipment capable of addressing these challenges came from Evgeny Babkin, the Chief Geotechnical Officer of OsOO (Ltd) Vertex Gold Company, and professor Vladimir Mansurov, the Advisor-Consultant to the Chairman of the Board of OsOO Global Asia Management, Dr. Phys.-Math.Sci. Subsequently, Vladislav Leyzer won the UMNIK grant and received funding under the START program of the federal project called Launch—from startup to IPO by the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia. The first industrial prototype was manufactured with grant funds at the Kinetics high-complexity prototyping center at NITU MISIS, and equipment bench tests were successfully conducted. The development aligns with the goals of NUST MISIS’s Technologies for Sustainable Development strategic project under the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education’s Priority 2030 program.
In addition to specialists from AK ALROSA and OsOO Vertex Gold Company, AO (JSC) EVRAZ United Western Siberian Metallurgical Plant and the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Mining Geomechanics and Surveying have already expressed their interest in collaboration.