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Dual Mode, “Crossover” Type Tunnel Boring Machines: A Unique Solution for Mixed Ground in the Middle East

While both Hard Rock Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) and Earth Pressure Balance (EPB) machines have been in existence for 50 years or more, the prevalence of mixed ground tunnels can make their use problematic. In many tunnels with both sections of hard rock and softer EPB type ground, the only historical solution was to use multiple machines or sacrifice efficiency by using just one machine type. Today, Dual Mode, “Crossover” type machines are edging TBMs into new territory by employing design elements from both EPB and Hard Rock Single Shield Machines. Where multiple machine types might have once been used, a Crossover Rock/EPB machine can excavate an entire tunnel in vastly different conditions. The machine type is particularly useful in fractured and faulted weak rock where clay inseams and sections of soft ground may be present. New designs are making this versatile take on tunnelling more efficient, even at larger diameters of 12 meters or more. This paper will explore modern trends in mixed ground TBM tunnelling, including Crossover EPB/Rock Designs that could be applied to the weak/soft rock so often encountered in Middle East tunnelling. It will also look at other Crossover machines being introduced into the industry, including Crossover EPB/Slurry TBMs for tunnelling in high pressure conditions.


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