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Tunnel and Underground Technology

Together with the industry, we develop new technologies for tunnel excavation and utilization of underground spaces.

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We have extensive experience in developing underground facilities, and participate in research-based consulting and investigations in projects both in Norway and abroad.

Our expertise is utilized especially in projects related to hydropower, mining, subsea tunnels and oil and gas storage. Within these areas, the properties of the rock mass are utilized to the fullest, and it is especially in such projects that we can assist our clients.

We also participate in road and railway tunnel projects, sports facilities and other types of underground halls where caverns excavated in rock are used, such as underground sewage treatment plants.

Our research and development activities focus on:

  • Characterization and assessment of rock mechanical properties, stress conditions and weakness zones, joints/faults and water-bearing structures in the rock mass, thus contributing to safe and cost-effective construction and excavation in rock.
  • Assessing and understanding the stability of rock and support requirements, both underground and in open cuts, including natural slopes. Using empirical, analytical and/or numerical models/simulations, we can design excavations in rock, optimize mining methods and designs in order to provide the best added value for projects.
  • By using stress and deformation measurements and monitoring, we can document the predictions and assessments performed before the rock was excavated. In large and complex underground systems it is often necessary to take measurements before excavating, and carry on modelling and monitoring for post-control. For several years, SINTEF has developed a unique toolbox for this; TRIPOD. 

SINTEF has extensive experience with technical assistance to the mining sector, both in open pit and underground; our original and primary task, more than 35 years ago, was to assist the mining sector, and we can proudly say we still do nowadays. Connecting mining and the use of the underground for civilian purposes is interesting and exciting, and we bring a lot of knowledge from working in this interface.

Together with industry and public actors, we will contribute to the future mining and tunneling sector exploiting the opportunities that lie in artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotization. Thus, making activities more climate friendly, more uniform, predictable, time and cost effective.