originally posted by: stormcell
originally posted by: neversaynever
Last i read. Up on that was like 8or 10 years ago. Seem like they use the stuff they bore through melt it and create nice solid glass / melted rock
walls at the back as they go forward. Will we ever realy know the truth.
These tunnel boring machines had a nuclear reactor on board. The cooling system for the reactor used liquid sodium to transport the heat to the
cutting end, but the other advantage of using sodium was that it would be hot enough for rock to melt as well. So the machine could melt rock where it
would resolidify into glassy pebbles or slabs and they could be transported back out. All fissures and cracks in the rock are sealed, leaving a
perfectly smooth glassy tunnel with no need for concrete.
That's definitely a cool idea and I'm not doubting the possibility, has anyone actually "ran the numbers" so to speak on if such a thing is even
possible? I have no doubt a TBM could be built that would melt rock, but what I doubt is that it would be as easy as melting it and then just having a
nice slick tunnel wall.
For example, a cutting head hot enough to melt rock is going to cause serious steam explosions underground whenever they hit a decent pocket of
groundwater or water saturated rock. I'm imagining large fractures opening up in the rock getting pried open by expanding steam. Although if the gov
was making these things without normal care, they might do it anyway knowing a certain percent of drillers will die, and that could explain the
sinkhole situations around the country.
There is also variations in the rock itself, which would change the composition and properties of the "glass wall" the tunnel is lined with. It
would be like building a bridge and not knowing what type of steel you are using.
Additionally, this would be impossible in ground with limestone, as limestone doesn't melt, it just off-gasses and turns into powder, so there would
be no glassy walls to begin with. So basically you'd probably be required to find a completely pure, huge, homogeneous layer of non-limestone rock
that spans for hundreds and hundreds of miles without variations. No saying it's impossible, but overall there just seems to be so many limiting
factors that it seems a bit unrealistic.
I'm also thinking of cooling. The process described is basically casting stone in a way, and to avoid cracking and to get the properties of the solid
material right they need to control the cooling. It would seem a logistical nightmare to control the cooling of such a large mass and size.
Plus there is still the issue of waste. All that molten rock will still have to be removed from the tunnel, as melting it doesn't get rid of it, just
changes it's form. So instead of disposing of tons and tons of normal rock, which nobody would think twice about, they have to dispose of tons and
tons of glass beads, or glass sheets, or liquid magma, keeping the pipes hot enough to keep magma flowing up to the surface would be a logistical
nightmare too, assuming you want any living people down in the tunnel, or any functioning electronics.
I'm really not trying to poo poo the idea, I'm very open to it being possible, I'm just curious if there has been any "nuts and bolts" attempts
at figuring out the logistics of such a thing.