November 9, 2000

Brookhaven Lab's Quiet Jackhammer Wins Popular Science Magazine Award

UPTON, NY - Popular Science has chosen a unique device for cutting concrete as one of this year's 100 most significant technological innovations. Developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, the winning technology, called RAPTOR (for rapid cutter of concrete), is a quieter, safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to the conventional jackhammer.

To make their selections for the magazine's annual "Best of What's New" edition, the Popular Science editors reviewed thousands of new products and technology developments. The awards for the 100 best products and technologies will be presented today at a luncheon at Tavern on the Green in Manhattan, and the award-winning inventions will be featured in the December issue of Popular Science .

The revolutionary RAPTOR technology uses a helium-driven gas gun to accelerate projectiles such as steel nails to 5,000 feet per second. The gas gun uses a free-moving piston within a tube to compress helium from between 30 and 50 pounds per square inch (psi) to 15,000 psi in a fraction of a second. This rapidly compressed helium drives the projectiles. The 6.5-foot long, 265-pound device can break up six-inch-thick concrete. Researchers are confident that the device can be scaled up for even thicker concrete demolition.

Mano Subudhi, Brookhaven's principal investigator on the project, commented, "It is gratifying that Popular Science appreciates RAPTOR's potential. The device is expected to be at least 25 percent faster than the jackhammer, and it is also safer and more worker-friendly. Since it will be quiet enough to use at night, it is expected to decrease traffic congestion during the day."

Additionally, RAPTOR's advantages over the conventional jackhammer include reducing energy use, air pollution, worker injury and operating costs. Conventional jackhammers run on air supplied by a compressor, which uses gasoline or diesel fuel, while the new device runs on environmentally benign compressed gas. In addition to RAPTOR's being used for resurfacing roads and bridge decks, the technology eventually may be suited for underground mining and in search and rescue missions.

Since 1996, Brookhaven researchers have been developing RAPTOR with the Gas Research Institute (GRI) of Chicago under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement. GRI holds the license to the technology, which the company projects will be marketed within a year. Other sponsors for the development of RAPTOR are Keyspan Energy/Brooklyn Union, Consolidated Edison Company of New York and Southern California Gas Company.

RAPTOR also won a 2000 Discover magazine award for technological innovation in June. Popular Science previously honored two Brookhaven Lab inventions in its 1996 "Best of What's New" edition - a grease-eating apparatus that uses microbes to process wastes, which is currently marketed by Perlucid Corporation, Nesconset; and a novel video screen originally developed for cockpit displays, which has several other potential uses, including wall-sized displays for home entertainment, video advertising displays, computers, and automotive dashboards.

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.

* * *