July 20, 1999
Upton, NY - The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Gas Research Institute of Chicago have signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to continue developing a quieter, safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to the conventional pneumatic jackhammer. Also contributing to the project are Keyspan Energy Company/Brooklyn Union, Consolidated Edison Company of New York and Southern California Gas Company.
Called RAPTOR, for rapid cutter of concrete system, the new device is expected to be tested and marketed within a year. RAPTOR is a revolutionary technology that uses a Brookhaven-designed, two-stage, helium-driven gas gun to accelerate inexpensive, expendable, light-weight steel projectiles to at least 5,000 to 6,000 feet per second - twice the speed of bullets fired from a high-powered rifle. In experimental tests, the researchers have demonstrated that this velocity can efficiently break up six-inch-thick pavement. Researchers are confident RAPTOR can be scaled up for even thicker concrete demolition.
During the past two years, Brookhaven, along with its partners - the Gas Research Institute, Keyspan Energy Company/Brooklyn Union and Consolidated Edison Company of New York - have developed a 15-foot-long prototype of RAPTOR, with a single-shot capacity, that has performed successfully in laboratory tests. The new, marketable version, expected to be completed with a year, will be about six-foot long and will be equipped with an automatic pellet loader and a magazine so that it can operate continuously at the rate of 6 to 12 shots per minute.
RAPTOR will have many advantages over a traditional jackhammer, including reduction in energy use, noise and air pollution, traffic congestion, and operating costs. Conventional jackhammers run on air supplied by a compressor, which uses gasoline or diesel fuel; the new device will operate on gases supplied by standard compressed gas cylinders and have only a small battery pack to supply power to solenoid valves, which are used to direct the flow of gases into and out of the simple device. The constant noise of a jackhammer would be replaced by the periodic sound of a silenced rifle-like shot. The new device would be faster than a conventional jackhammer, which means more efficient use of operators and less traffic congestion as a result of construction. Also, RAPTOR is safer and more worker-friendly than a conventional jackhammer, which commonly causes lost work time due to injuries, such as back sprain.
Engineers Gaby Ciccarelli and Mano Subudhi are Brookhaven's principal investigators for the project. They estimate that RAPTOR will cost about 25 percent less to operate than a conventional jackhammer. Robert Hall, Brookhaven's manager of the project, anticipates the device should be ready for field tests in New York City by June 2000.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory creates and operates major facilities available to university, industrial and government personnel for basic and applied research in the physical, biomedical and environmental sciences, and in selected energy technologies. The Laboratory is operated by Brookhaven Science Associates, a not-for-profit research management company, under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.