Tachyon Aerospace Asteroid Mining Technology
Industry in Transition
The mining and exploration industries for ages have been guardedly steered through its corporate culture, a culture keen on the capitalization of minerals and resources, because of the resource industry being a quick-market industry. It is a culture which ignores the need for developing or exploring fundamental sustainable exploration tools and methods, alongside the profits.
Our purpose isn’t to showcase or point at the ills of an industry, but we aim to explore common ground and relativity with emerging innovation and its situated impact on industry.
Asteroid Mining Technology (AMT)
The introduction of the AMT is a look into the Robotics Division at Tachyon Aerospace.
A marvel in robotics, the AMT is a new tool for providing an enhanced, sustainable exploration method for the extraction of resources and minerals.
The AMT provides an opportunity for the industry delegates to transition themselves and their respected firms from the past’s “legacy” technologies, and the timelines they belong to, towards a step into an innovative transition, exploring new methods of creating up-surged profits.
The development of the AMT showcases new innovation and methodology for exploration and drilling. The AMT is based on the fundamentals of exploration and retraction of minerals through a “surgical” process. This intricate process is not feasible through existing technologies, tools and methods. The abilities of the AMT are exclusive to its design and operating abilities.
The AMT has been designed around the following characteristics:
A thorough understanding of the geology of mineral deposits is fundamental to its successful exploration. The AMT is equipped with a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) transmitter which emits electromagnetic energy into the ground. When the signal encounters a buried object, caverns, minerals, or a boundary between materials in different layers, it is reflected or scattered back to the receiver in the AMT.
A receiving system can then record the variations in the return signal on a computer, tablet, or even a smartphone. The GPR insures safe guided operations.
The body structure of the AMT can be customized according to the operation at hand.
The main components in the AMT’s structural frame are its hydraulic bristles. The hydraulic bristles create an algorithm which propels the AMT forward. The yellow bristles are the pivot points in the AMT’s body structure. By inflating the segments on one end of the AMT, the other uninflated end turns. This process maneuvers the AMT with precession in caverns and shafts that are difficult to navigate.
Energy Input and Retraction
The AMT can be connected to a basic 5000W electric and gasoline generator. This gives it the ability to carry out intense and elongated exploration and retraction operations in regions of limited energy resources. The bore head or the drill bit is powered by the electrical generator as well—it is not hydraulic.
There is a dual-layered umbilical cord inside the AMT which extracts the high-pressure water sprayed by the jets located beside the drill bit. This method delivers a controlled retraction process for maximum resource recovery.
Intelligence and Adaption
The bore head on the AMT is designed to be multi-purpose. It can be replaced according to the desired operation.
The low production costs of the AMT give us the ability to develop an AMT unique to each particular operation or application at a fraction of the costs of owning, insuring, or building contemporary drilling equipment.
Increasing Difficulties with the Exploration & Mining Operations:
- Increase in operating costs
- Lack of hands-on consistent labor staff
- Equipment and staff safety concerns
- Seismic activity
- Climate impact in sensitive regions as the North Pole and Alaska due to carbon emissions
- Lack of technological solutions
- Lack of exploration abilities in secluded regions
- Lack of a power supplies to operate in secluded regions
Technology Integration Relevant to Current Drilling Methods
An auger is a drilling device, or drill bit, that usually includes a rotating helical screw blade. The rotation of the blade causes the material or soil to move out of the hole being drilled. Auger drilling is used for a softer ground such as swamps where the hole will not stay open by itself for environmental drilling, geotechnical drilling, soil engineering, and geochemistry reconnaissance work in exploration for mineral deposits.
Solid flight-augers/bucket-augers are used in hard ground construction drilling. In some cases, mine shafts are dug with auger drills. Small augers can be mounted on the back of a utility truck, with large augers used for sinking piles for bridge foundations. Auger drilling is restricted to generally soft unconsolidated material or weak weathered rock.
Cable Tool Drilling
Cable tool rigs are a traditional way of drilling water wells. The majority of large-diameter water supply wells, especially deep wells completed in bedrock aquifers, were completed using this drilling method.
Although this drilling method has largely been supplanted in recent years by other, faster drilling techniques, it is still the most practicable drilling method for large diameter, deep-bedrock wells, and it is in widespread use for small rural water supply wells. The impact of the drill bit fractures the rock and in many shale rock situations increases the water flow into a well over rotary.
Reverse Circulation (RC) Drilling
RC drilling is similar to air-core drilling, in that the drill cuttings are returned to surface inside the rods. The drilling mechanism is a pneumatic reciprocating piston known as a “hammer” driving a tungsten-steel drill bit.
RC drilling utilizes much larger rigs and machinery and depths of up to 500 meters are routinely achieved. RC drilling ideally produces dry rock chips, as large air compressors dry the rock out ahead of the advancing drill bit. RC drilling is slower and more costly but achieves better penetration than RAB or air core drilling. It is cheaper than diamond coring and is thus preferred for most mineral exploration work.
Diamond Core Drilling
Diamond core drilling (exploration diamond drilling) utilizes an annular diamond-impregnated drill bit attached to the end of hollow drill rods to cut a cylindrical core of solid rock. The diamonds used are fine to micro-fine industrial grade diamonds. They are set within a matrix of varying hardness, from brass to high-grade steel. Matrix hardness, diamond size, and dosing can be varied according to the rock which must be cut. Holes within the bit allow water to be delivered to the cutting face. This provides three essential functions like lubrication, cooling, and removal of drill cuttings from the hole.
Diamond drilling is much slower than reverse circulation (RC) drilling due to the hardness of the ground being drilled. Drilling of 1200 to 1800 meters is common and at these depths, ground is mainly hard rock. Diamond rigs need to drill slowly to lengthen the life of drill bits and rods, which are very expensive.
Direct Push Rigs
Direct push technology includes several types of drilling rigs and drilling equipment which advance a drill string by pushing or hammering without rotating the drill string.
While this does not meet the proper definition of drilling, it does achieve the same result, a bore hole. Direct push rigs include both cone penetration testing (CPT) rigs and direct push sampling rigs such as a power probe or geo probe. Direct push rigs typically are limited to drilling in unconsolidated soil materials and very soft rock.
Sonic (Vibratory) Drilling
A sonic drill head works by sending high frequency resonant vibrations down the drill string to the drill bit, while the operator controls these frequencies to suit the specific conditions of the soil/rock geology. Vibrations may also be generated within the drill head. The frequency is generally between 50 and 120 hertz (cycles per second) and can be varied by the operator.
Resonance magnifies the amplitude of the drill bit, which fluidizes the soil particles at the bit face, allowing for fast and easy penetration through most geological formations. An internal spring system isolates these vibrational forces from the rest of the drill rig.
Hydraulic Rotary Drilling
Cutter diamond, or diamond-impregnated, drill bits wear away at the cutting face. This is preferred because there is no need to return intact samples to surface for assay as the objective is to reach a formation containing oil or natural gas. Sizable machinery is used, enabling depths of several kilometers to be penetrated. Rotating hollow drill pipes carry down bentonite and barite infused drilling muds to lubricate, cool, and clean the drilling bit, control downhole pressures, stabilize the wall of the borehole and remove drill cuttings. The mud travels back to the surface around the outside of the drill pipe, called the annulus. Examining rock chips extracted from the mud is known as mud logging.
Another form of well logging is electronic and is frequently employed to evaluate the existence of possible oil and gas deposits in the borehole. This can take place while the well is being drilled, using Measurement While Drilling tools, or after drilling, by lowering measurement tools into the newly drilled hole.
In high growth commodities sectors, such as exploration, mining, and drilling; major industry players are seeking new innovations capable of shifting the existing culture and practices at the very core and foundation of their service platforms. Apart from providing sustainable solutions, new innovation also promotes an open investment culture which allows companies to capture new growth opportunities. The impact is then felt throughout the global industry in shaping supply and demand with sustainable production practices, affecting GDP and the infrastructure development within the organization’s respective country.
In the case of asteroid mining; creating a space resource industry is in position to completely transform the drilling and mining industry. From its market value of 1.6 trillion in 2010, to 714 billion in 2016; the industry needs a refurbishment of resources and practices to experience new growth & capital.
Goldman Sachs released a report earlier this year that declared asteroid mining is more realistic than perceived, with costs “comparable to traditional mines”. The Goldman report also noted that “while the psychological barrier to mining asteroids is high, the actual financial and technological barriers are far lower.”
Tachyon Aerospace presents an able technology providing efficiency in its method towards creating a new space resource industry. Testing grounds for the robotic worm designed by Tachyon Aerospace will include mineral and resource recovery in regions such as Alaska, the Arctic (concerning the known difficulties of permafrost and hard-rock drilling), and the challenging environments of the deep ocean sea bed.
The innovation team at Tachyon Aerospace envisages the worm technology to be the much-needed breakthrough to transform the drilling industry. The worm provides cost effective efficiency with its operations to deliver results by being able to deploy multiple units to deliver an efficient return of resources at the same time, rather than deploying large scaled mechanical apparatuses as the listed technologies and methods in the above sections.