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24.10.2019

"Airlift" facility: TU Freiberg tests new mining technology in research and training mine

At the TU Bergakademie Freiberg, research is carried out into the preservation of the foundations of life in our society. Above all, this includes the secure and environmentally friendly supply of energy and raw materials. With the "Airlift" facility inaugurated on 22 October, scientists from the TU Bergakademie Freiberg and Polen are testing safe and clean technologies for the extraction of raw materials using high-pressure water jets. The results will flow into the construction of a pilot plant close to industry. On the new six-metre-high test rig, researchers at the Technische Universiät Bergakademie Freiberg are testing the transport of the crushed material to the surface via a borehole.

The material is sucked out of a closed cavern (underground cavity) and crushed with the aid of compressed air and water and transported to the surface. „The intervention at the surface is minimal. The resulting cavities are later filled again. Nobody has to go underground,” explains Prof. Drebenstedt. The Freiberg scientists are now investigating the optimum operating parameters for the new borehole technology in a practical manner in the new “Airlift” facility in the university’s own research and training mine “Reiche Zeche”. The results should provide information about the operating conditions, performance and costs of the plant, which will be built in 2020 as an industrial pilot plant in Katowice, Poland. The process can be used to extract various raw materials. Initial experience has been gained with uranium, phosphate and coal. The research work is part of the research project “HydroCoal Plus” funded by the European Union within the framework of “HORIZON 2020/7th Research Framework Programme” and will be carried out together with Polish and Czech experts. (Press Release, October 22, 2019)