A methodology for assessing the environmental benefits of DRAGON technology

Shonfield, Peter; Anderson, Jane and Boyd, Sarah (2015). A methodology for assessing the environmental benefits of DRAGON technology. Geomechanics and Tunnelling: Geomechanik und Tunnelbau, 8(4) pp. 333–339.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/geot.201500014


Most excavated material generated from tunnelling projects ends up being deposited on land. The EU funded project “DRAGON” aims to develop technologies to analyse and characterise this material so that the potentially usable fraction can be easily separated from non‐usable material. Increasing use of this material by external industries will improve resource efficiency while reducing landfill quantities and disposal costs. One of the project goals is to assess the potential environmental benefits/costs of applying DRAGON technology to planned future EU tunnelling projects. A three stage approach has been adopted to meet this goal. Firstly, the potential for diverting material from landfill must be assessed. To account for the diversity of tunnelling projects, this will be based on an average of 54 recent tunnelling projects. Secondly, a life cycle assessment (LCA) model will be created to allow each of these tunnelling projects to be analysed and the potential benefits of using DRAGON technology will be compared against the ‘business as usual’ case. These results will then be averaged to give the expected environmental costs/benefits per t excavated material. Finally, these costs/benefits will be scaled up to account for the expected amount of material from future European tunnelling projects ‐ expected to be around 800 m. t.

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