NuGen Properties

Geotechnical specialist studies sonic drilling

Borehole Solutions and Leeds Beckett have secured government funding for a 30-month knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) programme.

Borehole Solutions already uses sonic drilling – using sound vibrations to loosen the soil – but wants some further research into the benefits to bolster the credibility of the technique. It hopes to create an independently verified, credible evidence base to allow the company to be explicit about the advantages of sonic drilling.

Martin Pritchard, reader in the School of Built Environment, Engineering and Computing at Leeds Beckett University, is leading the project. He explained: “This relatively new technique is seen as the future of drilling. It is a soil penetration technique that strongly reduces friction on the drill string and drill. Vibration frequency, of up to 150 Hz, causes a very thin zone of soil particles surrounding the drill string to go into liquefaction. Its benefits include increased safety, cost savings, speed, cleanliness, and accuracy as well as being more environmentally friendly.

“Sonic drilling is currently not widely used throughout the construction industry – with cable percussion (CP) drilling being the most common technique in the UK. Borehole Solutions are an innovative and forward-thinking company, and they want to expand the capability of sonic drilling within the UK construction industry.”

Borehole Solutions managing director Rob Lewis said: “It’s great to be getting involved with the university to explore the sonic technology we have adopted as a company. The project will allow us to provide rigorous data for the method together – and to improve on the knowledge we have already gained by leading the technology in the field.”

Jo Griffiths, head of knowledge transfer partnerships at the university, added: “The project will enable Borehole Solutions to seize new market opportunity, grow turnover and support the strategic shift for wider site investigation services thereby supporting long-term sustainable growth.

“The project builds on academic research work already undertaken by Dr Pritchard at the university and will provide further evidence for ongoing research projects as well as new impact case studies and student projects.”

The academic team is completed by civil engineering lecturer Anthony Smith and marketing lecturer David Andrews.

For more information about sonic drilling, see Borehole Solutions’ guide to the technique here.

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