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Blasting Fundamentals

©Dr. B. C. Paul 2000
Note – The slides that follow present the author’s summary of knowledge commonly
held by people well studied in the field. While information found here-in can be
found in a variety of published sources this material does not by design or intention
follow any one source of information.

The Role of Fragmentation in Mining • Rock masses must generally be reduced into small discrete pieces to enable materials handling and processing • Reduction is usually accomplished mechanically by ripping or scraping if softness permits • By blasting using explosives to accomplish size reduction .

reaction front is faster than speed of sound – Example .Explosive Types • Low Explosives .TNT and Dynamite .progress of the reaction front through the explosive chemical mixture is slower than the speed of sound – Example .Black Powder • High Explosives .

Blasting Agents • Popular explosive formulation today • Made of combinations of chemicals that are themselves not explosive – Advantage in transportation – Taking high explosives over public highways is a major permitting issue – May provide for storage of non-explosives (explosives require special powder magazines) .

Texas .Texas City.Blasting Agents Continued • Most common example is ANFO – Combination of prilled Ammonium Nitrate (a fertilizer) about 96% – Diesel Fuel about 4% • 1930’s put ANFO mix in cans and used as cheap dynamite • Late 1940s early 50s rediscovered as a bulk explosive .

Formulation of an Explosive • Combination of a Fuel and an Oxidizer • Fuel that is prone to fast reaction and usually produces large number of fumes and a high energy yield • Oxidizer provides for fuel to burn without kinetic limitations of atmospheric exchange – Can blast under water .

Nitroglycerine) • Oxidizer – most high explosives build it in • Confinement and Pressure – heat. and pressure are needed to boost reaction kinetics and make fuel burn with a reaction front faster than sound • Can you see what happened at Texas City . confinement.Elements of an Explosive Detonation • Initiation energy – usually in form of heat – or shock (example .

Initiation of a Blasting Agent • Meant to be safe .go off only when very specific design conditions are met • Cap Sensitivity – Deals with amount of shock energy to initiate • Charge in a blasting cap is not enough shock energy – generally heat alone will not provide energy threshold • Drilling into charge or getting caught in a fire generally not enough .

Classic Blasting Initiation System • Series of electric blasting caps • Burst of electricity through the circuit initiates blasting caps • Each blasting cap contains a bridge wire similar to the element of a light bulb – The electric burst causes the bridge wire to become very hot • Below the bridge wire is a column of black powder .ignited by hot bridge wire .

Classic Initiation • Black Powder Column functions as a delay. Variable powder column lengths allow one pulse of electricity to cause caps to go off at different pre-designed times • At base of powder column is a heat sensitive high explosive charge called a base charge • When the black powder column burns down the cap explodes .

not blow up rock • Cap is inserted in a small hole (called a cap well) in a booster • Booster is a chunk of high explosive such as TNT or PTN – is shock sensitive but limited heat sensitivity .Initiation from a Cap • Cap is about the size of an overgrown 22 shell .could blow fingers off your hand .

Cap Initiation Continued • Booster with a Cap inserted is called a primer • The primer is cap sensitive – When handled .can play Frisbee and Baseball with it and it won’t go off – When the cap goes off about 5 or 10 lbs of high explosive detonates • Enough energy to shatter a person or a small amount of rock .

Blowing Things Up • The primer sits in a column of blasting agent • Shock from 5 lbs of TNT is enough to initiate the blasting agent • Main explosive charge goes off shattering the rock mass (and any stupid sucker standing in the blast area) .

Strengths of the Modern Approach • Very limited amounts of highly explosive material used • Staged initiation ensures that main explosive charge is almost impossible to set off without design and intent • Maximizes performance of large amounts of powerful explosives .

Initiation Alternatives • Problem of electric blasting caps is electrical surge initiates – Lighting strike can cause full detonation with people in area – large loops of wire act as antennas and can induce current from radio waves • (Remember radio silence requirements around building demolition sites) • Detonating chord .cord filled with high explosive set off by single cap .

Detonating Chord • Cap is not eliminated but one person hooks up at the edge of the shot area after the shot is wired .disturbs neighbors – Can bury the chord but still noisy and could break connection • High speed reaction through chord eliminates most opportunities for controlled delays .greatly reduced vulnerability • Produces a surface high explosive blast deafening sound .

Non.El • Hollow plastic tube with an explosive coating inside • Can build delay elements into circuit • Similar to det chord but slower reaction • Limited explosive reduces noise • Still initiate with a single cap .