Infrastructure network enhancement inspired by nature
Patino Ramirez, Luis Fernando
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The construction of subsurface cavities is pertinent to a wide range of applications all the way from in-situ testing to large transportation tunnels, including horizontal directional drills, micro-tunnels, geothermal energy and mining. The present study enhances the knowledge of this problem considering that nature has perfected it over millions of years, creating exceptional, sustainable and cost-efficient strategies to build such cavities, as is the example of worms and ants. As such, we analyze the design of subsurface cavities not only at the local scale of the cavity, but also at the network level, since the cavities are one of the components that must fit into a larger complex system. At the network scale, we focus on methods to optimize not only the mechanical stability of cavities, but also their transport and cost efficiency. And at the cavity scale, we study the deformation and failure mechanisms of such cavities from experimental and numerical points of view. Our results improve the construction of micro-tunnels and horizontal directional drills (HDD) and propose new in-situ methods to calculate the stress state and mechanical parameters of the soil mass.