Measurement while drilling technology for tunnel construction

Key challenges in a nutshell

  • Data-driven identification of rock properties ahead of the tunnel front
  • Development of sensors and artificial intelligence algorithm

Short description of the technology

Rock mass conditions uncertainties are a major source of challenges in TBM and underground infrastructure planning. There is a strong potential in bringing and adapting MWD (measurement while drilling) from the drilling industry to the rock mass characterization in TBM works.

State of the Art: technology in existing gravitational wave detectors / TRL

Case studies exist where the MWD technology was used to predict rock mass conditions and showed a good correlation between MWD outputs and geotechnical parameters (Fracture Index/Q-Index). MWD recordings may include penetration rate, percussive pressure, feed pressure, rotation pressure, rotation speed, damping pressure, flushing flow and is performed at high resolution (cm). (See e.g. Atlas Copco’s Underground Manager MWD).

Intended use in the frame of the Einstein Telescope

The use of MWD is expected to anticipate rock mass conditions ahead of the tunneling face and thereby reducing uncertainties and risks associated (and therefore costs) with the partly known geology and geotechnical conditions ahead.

Improvements needed: Technological challenge for the Einstein Telescope

There is a challenge to inform the tunnelling at the relevant scale and to build a consistent set of algorithm and data to obtain meaningful correlation between scale-relevant geotechnical parameters and MWD outputs for example using machine learning or the development of new sensors.

Economic perspectives of participation beyond the ET applications

We are open to any companies’ proposals.

Related projects and labs

Ongoing and future procurements

Not in E-TEST.

Business Development contacts

Peter Gier

Dirk Kalinowski

Michel Stassart
Skywin BE –

Maxime Corvilain
POM Limburg BE –

René Kessen

Technology contact

Florian Amann
RWTH Aachen DE –