Rock fracturing by low power microwave treatment – Observations, mechanisms and applications

Jian Zhao, Yanlong Zheng, Qianbing Zhang, Xiaobao Zhao

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperOther

2 Citations (Scopus)


The three most predominant methods for hard rock excavation and fragmentation are the use of explosives, mechanical impact/cutting and hydraulic fracturing. However, those methods have inherent drawbacks, such as non-applicability or poor performance in extremely hard and abrasive rocks. Novel rock fracturing and fragmentation methods are in need to either work individually or in combined forms to break rocks. Research shows that some rock forming minerals and water can be heated up rapidly by microwave, to induce microcracks and fractures in rocks. Microwave therefore can be regarded as a promising technology of hard rock fracturing and fragmentation, with the potential of energy and cost efficiency. This keynote first provides a brief review of the research on microwave effects on rock fracturing, followed by descriptions of experimental studies of crack formation in different rocks treated by a low power industrial microwave. Possible fracturing mechanisms by microwave treatment are discussed, and the applications of microwave treatment assisting rock excavation coupled with mechanical means are outlined at the end of this keynote.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationISRM International Symposium - 10th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium, ARMS 2018
PublisherInternational Society for Rock Mechanics
ISBN (Electronic)9789811190032
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
EventAsian Rock Mechanics Symposium 2018 - Singapore, Singapore
Duration: 29 Oct 20183 Nov 2018
Conference number: 10th

Publication series

NameISRM International Symposium - 10th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium, ARMS 2018


ConferenceAsian Rock Mechanics Symposium 2018
Abbreviated titleARMS 2018


  • Dielectric Properties
  • Laboratory Tests
  • Low Power Microwave
  • Mechanical Excavation
  • Rock Fracturing

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