Want to break into hard rock? Ride the lightning! Electropulse stimulation of granite: numerical models and experimental results

Stuart D Walsh, Daniel Vogler, Tadeusz Czaszejko

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Electropulse stimulation is a method to fracture rock using a series of high voltage pulses. Particularly effective for hard rocks, these techniques can be combined with, or substituted for, more traditional approaches to drilling and excavation. Energy consumption and wear and tear are reduced, thereby reducing overall costs. However, the coupled physical processes involved in electropulse stimulation remain poorly described, inhibiting the advancement of these new technologies.
Here, we present results from new experimental and numerical studies investigating electropulse stimulation of hard rock. The numerical model simulates electrical breakdown in the rock, the discharge of the pulse, and the effects on the rock at the grain scale. The model's performance is demonstrated by simulating the response of a granite sample to a series of different applied electric pulses. Results from high voltage experiments are also presented and compared to the numerical simulation. We discuss how the model and experimental results highlight the importance of the microporosity and grain size distribution in determining the efficacy of the electropulse treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventFall Meeting of the American-Geophysical-Union 2019 - San Francisco, United States of America
Duration: 9 Dec 201913 Dec 2019


ConferenceFall Meeting of the American-Geophysical-Union 2019
Abbreviated titleAGU 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
CitySan Francisco
Internet address

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