Project Electric Facturing

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Laboratory for applied mechanical and electrical engineering sciences (SIAME)
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Project: Electric Fracturing

Project name: Electric fracturing

Subject: Electric fracturing of rocks using electrical discharges in water

Start date: January 1, 2016

End date: January 1, 2017

Coordinator: SIAME

Scientific manager at the SIAME: Laurent PECASTAING

Permanent members of the SIAME involved: Antoine SILVESTRE de FERRON, Thierry REESS


Type of contract: Hubert Curien partnership (PHC)

Partner(s): LFCR (Gilles PIJAUDIER CABOT) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing (Yaohong SUN)


Project description

As part of a Hubert Curien partnership, the SIAME and LFC-R laboratories of the University of Pau and the Adour region are working with the Electrical Engineering Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences on the use of electrical discharges in water to fracture rocks.

The University of Pau – since 2000 – and the Electrical Engineering Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing – since 2011 – have been studying discharges in water and optimization of the pressure wave resulting from the initiation of the electric arc, the development of energy test beds for running experimental damage analyses on rocks and the simulation of wave propagation in rocks. The key points of the project are as follows:

  • Development of an energy test bed by each team.
  • Development of dedicated direct shock generators.
  • Understanding of physical phenomena taking place during the discharge in water.
  • Highlighting of two propagation modes (subsonic and supersonic).
  • Measurement and optimization of the associated dynamic pressure wave.
  • Prediction of the amplitude of the dynamic pressure depending on the current traveling through the medium.
  • Simulation of the rock fracturing process by dynamic shock waves and evaluation of the influence of wave pressure propagation on fracturing.

The scientific program, Xu Guangqi, that is part of this PHC project ensures continuity with previous work on electric fracturing. The aim is to build a partnership in which it will be possible to cross-reference the experimental data obtained in the French and Chinese laboratories in order to validate a database on rocks fractured by electric arcs in a liquid. This experimental analysis is due to be coupled with simulations taking into account the entire process including the creation of the pressure wave.