Rock Material Recycling in Tunnel Engineering
In the construction industry, especially in tunneling or large-scale earthworks projects, huge quantities of excavation material are generated as a by-product. Although at first glance such material is undesirable, in many cases this material, if suitably treated and processed, can be recycled and reused on the construction site and does not necessarily need to be removed and deposited as waste at a landfill. In the simplest case, the material can be used as filling material with the least
... with the least demanding requirements with regard to rock quality. Material of better quality often can be recycled as aggregate and be used as a substitute for conventional mineral aggregates. This approach generates numerous benefits regarding the costs for material procurement, storage and transport. In addition, reduction in environmental impact and demand for landfill volume can be achieved. The challenge lies in the fact that excavation material is not a standard aggregate in terms of geometric, physical and chemical characteristics and is subject to quality deviations during tunnel driving, mainly depending on the varying geology and applied excavation method. Therefore, preliminary research and experimental testing as well as specific evaluation and continuous examination of the rock quality during tunnel driving is necessary as well as ongoing adjustment of the rock processing plant to finally accomplish a high-quality level of recycled aggregates. This article illustrates the material investigations and treatment processes for the specific example of the Brenner Base Tunnel, the longest underground railway line in the world that is currently under construction. There, material recycling has already been successfully implemented.