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First two trial blasts

Posted by Alex Mickle

During March, we completed the first two trial blasts successfully. They were a bit hit-and-miss in so far as achieving expected results. Regardless of this, they have provided material from which we can work and data on which we can build and improve upon in planning the next run of trials.  

May 2014 trial blasts in Paraburdoo (Photo Craig Walsh)May 2014 trial blasts in Paraburdoo (Photo Craig Walsh)

While blast one achieved the expected result, blast two failed to achieve the expected result as I had been wrong in my material estimation, particularly where plate thickness was concerned. This, of course, impacted directly on the final result. I don’t see it as a failure really as we can still make use of the resulting material. We just did not achieve what we set out to do.

Then in May, a total of 15 trial blasts were conducted over three separate shots, incorporating two blast designs – a very successful day's work that proved to be both engaging and educational for all present, yielding some much better results than expected. Perhaps the best of these was a consolidation of the unconventional work practice we are developing. It was exactly the work scenario that I had originally envisaged for this project – an enthusiastic, enquiring and team building exercise. This project is very much process driven. How we get there is equally as important as where we are going.

During the May blasts, shot one was an attempt to fuse Aluminium plate to Steel plate, using ANFO. Three different sized blasts were rigged and fired. While we did not bond full plates together, we did manage to fuse a thin aluminium layer to steel, proving that with further work this is entirely possible.

Shot two comprised four blasts aimed at puncturing or perforating both aluminium and steel disks to achieve a particular effect in a tightly controlled way. Four blasts were rigged using different combinations of explosive. This resulted in one disk perfectly formed and several other intriguing effects – including the successful fusion of plates we had attempted in the first shot. A case of experimentation feeding directly into future process, something I had very much hoped might happen.

Shot three was a combination of both the above and several shots devised after seeing what had been achieved in the previous blasts. Eight blasts in total were fired, approximately half using water as containment. This last shot gave some very surprising results, some of which we did not expect to see until the stage three trials, rendering several of the next planned trials unnecessary – and saving us time and allowing us to move directly on to more complex molds. It was during this shot that we saw the vast differences produced when altering the type and quantity of explosive used. This information will prove extremely valuable in designing ALL future trials.

We are succeeding in achieving most of the outcomes in our blast plans so far. It is, however, a very difficult process to control, particularly where repeats are required. There will probably always be random elements that will play in to what we are doing. This can be used to our advantage, as it is unique … and something that I am more than happy to work with.

Our next round of trial blasts will be in July. More from me then.

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