Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Blast from the past


  • Michael Carlowicz


Forget dynamite or hydraulic and mechanical drills. Industrial and federal researchers have started boring holes with rocket fuel.

In a cooperative arrangement between Sandia National Laboratory, Global Environmental Solutions, and Universal Tech Corp., scientists and engineers extracted fuel from 200 rocket motors and used it as a mining explosive. In a demonstration completed last fall, researchers used 4950 kg of solid rocket propellant to move more than 22,500 metric tons of rock from the Lone Star Quarry in Prairie, Oklahoma. They found that the fuel improved blast energy and detonation velocity over traditional explosives, and it required fewer drill holes.