Home » Mammoet tunnel operation shows what battery power can do

Mammoet tunnel operation shows what battery power can do

by Mark Cantrell
An operation to lift and skid an 850-tonne concrete tunnel section into place ended up being anything but standard – instead it showcased a low carbon approach.

An operation to lift and skid an 850-tonne concrete tunnel section into place ended up being anything but standard – instead it showcased a low carbon approach.

Mammoet could have done it the usual way. However, when it was approached by Stadsbader Contractors to move the tunnel section 40 metres underneath railway lines in Belgium, it realised there was a way to achieve the move with zero emissions.

After assessing the project, the company’s engineers set to work combining existing skidding equipment with new battery-powered technology. 

The project required precise calculations and implementation to lift and skid the 850-tonne tunnel section – measuring 25m x 8.5m – across 40 metres to reach its destination: Below a railway track near Brussels. 

The operation also had to be carried out to a time-critical deadline, with minimum disruption to train users, and before the Monday morning commute began. No pressure, then.

Using Mammoet’s specialised tunnel adaptors and skidding system, hydraulic jacks were put into place to manoeuvre and lift the concrete tunnel section from the ground. 

When enough ground clearance was created, hydraulic cylinders pushed the tunnel section across 40 meters of Teflon pad-equipped skid tracks to its destination. 

The hydraulic power used to achieve this was generated using an electric powerpack, combined with a battery, to supply the energy needed.

To determine what was needed to carry out the job, Mammoet engineers executed several smaller scale projects, such as transformer installations, which served as feasibility tests before moving on to the large-scale Belgian project.

After preparations for the operation were put in place, the skidding procedure was completed in under an hour and 2.5 hours ahead of the estimated schedule. 

Pascal Eeken, manager for improvement and innovation at Mammoet Europe, said: “We have demonstrated that through innovative engineering, and combining new and existing technology we have the ability to execute zero emission heavy lift projects for our customers – and that’s the future.”

The electric powerpack, or mobile power unit (MPU), is powered by recycled batteries, with a maximum capacity of 50kWh. It weighs 1,460kg and has loading capacity for an additional 1,000kg of auxiliary equipment via its roof rack. It accepts standard inputs and outputs at 16, 32 or 63A. 

Its battery can also be charged using solar energy, further increasing the sustainability of operations.

The sustainable mobile power source enabled Mammoet to not only perform the special device skidding operation with zero emission, but also off the grid. This means the solution is transferable to even relatively remote locations. 

Mammoet says its approach resulted in “many positive gains for the customer”, including improved on-site safety due to reduced noise levels during the operation; less impact on the surrounding environment due to the absence of on-site emissions – and all while maintaining the same strict timescale as normal.


Read next: Research claims HS2 is major boost for West Midlands economy

Are you a building professional? Sign up for a FREE MEMBERSHIP to upload news stories, post job vacancies, and connect with colleagues on our secure social feed.

Leave a Comment

Related News

Online building news, features and opinions

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More