Leti, a research institute of the CEA, and Davey Bickford, a specialist in blasting solutions, have demonstrated a new, wireless system that offers increased safety, flexibility and productivity gains to the blasting market.
The new system, developed in the frame of the Technological Research Institute IRT Nanoelec, consists of electronic detonators with bi-directional radio modules placed on the surface of a mining pit. This wireless network communicates with a digital blasting system located a few kilometers away from the blasting zone and is controlled by a wireless communication protocol specifically developed and optimized to ensure safe, reliable and synchronized operation of hundreds of detonating elements in open pit mines.
A key innovation of the new blasting solution is the wireless activation of the detonators. Each detonator can be powered up, programmed and reconfigured by means of an easy-to-use remote programming unit that operates through a safe and dedicated optical link. The reliable and secure wireless solution for the actuation of hundreds of electronic detonators was tested successfully in an open-pit mine.
“By replacing wired communications with an innovative wireless link, this new system helps bring large-scale mining into the digital era, and increases safety, efficiency and productivity for mine operators,” said Hughes Metras, director of IRT Nanoelec, a consortium focused on R&D in the field of semiconductor devices and ICT technologies.
“This project also highlights the expertise of CEA-Leti in developing reliable and safe communication protocols for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications and underscores the value of the system approach carried out by Nanoelec with the support of CEA-Leti’s wireless division,” he said.
“The innovation demonstrated in this joint-development project is an important milestone in the collaboration between CEA-Leti and Davey Bickford Enaex,” said Nicolas Besnard, technology and system director of Davey Bickford. “Our company is committed to bringing the latest mine-blasting technologies to our customers around the world and this new electronic wireless-detonation system is another strong addition to our portfolio of solutions and services.”
This joint R&D project is part of IRT Nanoelec’s PULSE program, in which connectivity between objects is studied by CEA-Leti’s teams. The program enables access to CEA-Leti channel-sounding tools and radio-frequency system characterization.