Experimental Investigation on the Effects of Microwave Treatment on Basalt Heating, Mechanical Strength, and Fragmentation

Published on Aug 1, 2019in Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering4.14
· DOI :10.1007/S00603-019-1743-Y
Gao-Ming Lu4
Estimated H-index: 4
(CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences),
Lu Gaoming (CAS: Chinese Academy of Sciences)+ 2 AuthorsXiwei Zhang14
Estimated H-index: 14
(NU: Northeastern University)
Microwave energy can be used to assist mechanical rock breakage for civil and mining engineering operations. To assess the industrial applicability of this technology, microwave heating of basalt specimens in a multi-mode cavity (a microwave chamber) at different power levels was followed by conventional mechanical strength and fragmentation effect tests in the laboratory. X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy/energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy were used to determine the mineral composition and distribution of the basalt, to aid interpretation of crack propagation patterns and the associated strength reduction mechanism. These analyses demonstrated that cracks mainly occurred around olivine grains, primarily as intergranular cracks between olivine and plagioclase grains and intragranular cracks within olivine grains. Strength reduction during microwave fracturing of basalt is driven by heat from enstatite (a microwave-sensitive mineral) and volumetric expansion of olivine (a thermally expansive mineral). Uniaxial compressive, Brazilian tensile, and point load strengths all decreased with increasing microwave irradiation time at rates that were positively related to the power level. For a given power level, mechanical strength reduction can be estimated from linear relationships with irradiation time. On the other hand, a power function best described burst time (the irradiation time at which the specimen burst into fragments) vs. power level (for a given specimen size) and burst time vs. specimen size (for a given power level) relationships. Microwave-induced hard rock fracturing can be an integral part of new methods for rock breakage and tunnel excavation.
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