The U.S. Department of Energy's Grand Junction Projects Office is participating in a $1.5 million cooperative agreement with Alpine Equipment Corp./Astro International Corp. (Alpine) of State College, Pennsylvania, to evaluate the water-jet-assisted (WJA) mechanical cutting of oil shale under actual mining conditions. The cost of the 24-month, three-phase technology development project, started in February 1988, is shared equally between Alpine and the Department of Energy. Additional support will be provided by the U.S. Bureau of Mines Pittsburgh Research Center and oil shale companies, through the Colorado Mining Association. The physical characteristics of oil shale (a dolomitic limestone containing kerogen) make conventional mechanized production mining methods impractical by causing excessive machine vibration, high bit-wear rates, and excessive dust generation. Current mechanical excavation methods for oil shale are less efficient and more costly than the traditional drill-and-blast methods. However, conventional drill-and-blast methods have limitations imposed by excessive rock damage and regulatory considerations. The WJA cutting technology currently being developed is expected to be applicable to oil shale deposits in the eastern and western United States. An evaluation under actual mining conditions will provide field data that can be utilized by the private sector to develop and commercialize WJA mechanized mining equipment to mine oil shale.
Proc. 1988 Eastern Oil Shale Symp, Lexington; Inst Min & Miner Res, Univ Kentucky, 1988, PP. 225-236