The world’s largest 3D printing project, China made a 100-meter dam but no one built it

In Qinghai Province, on the upper reaches of the turbulent Yellow River, there is a dam under construction, the Yangqu Hydropower Station. It is the lowest level of the three planned cascade hydropower stations in the upstream section of the Longyangxia Hydropower Station, the main stream of the river. The total installed capacity of the power station is 1.2 million kilowatts, and it is expected that the first unit will be put into operation in July 2024.

▲ Picture from: "South China Morning Post"

After completion, the Yangqu Hydropower Station will transmit about 5 billion kWh of electricity annually to Henan Province through the Qingyu DC UHV transmission channel. This hydropower station with a maximum dam height of 150 meters is not only the first to use the inlaid concrete face rockfill dam type, but more particularly, the dam was built using 3D printing technology.

When it comes to 3D printing, many people are no strangers. From small components to large buildings, this technology is used today in many fields such as automotive, electronics, aerospace, medical, energy, construction and more. If completed, the Yangqu Hydropower Station will be the largest 3D-printed building in the world.

▲ Picture from: State Power Investment Corporation

How can such a huge building be built using 3D printing? From the relevant paper "3D Printing Technology and Application of Large-scale Reclamation Projects" published by Liu Tianyun, the chief scientist of the project, in the "Journal of Tsinghua University (Natural Science Edition)", we can know that the essential keyword is "AI artificial intelligence".

▲ Picture from: Journal of Tsinghua University

The 3D printing technology system used in this project includes the engineering construction dispatch center system and the 3D construction assembly line operation. The engineering construction dispatch center system is equivalent to the center of the system. According to the progress of the construction organization design, the 3D digital design model of the filling project should be "sliced" in layers, and the paths and procedures should be planned for the construction equipment.

▲ Picture from: Journal of Tsinghua University

A variety of intelligent industrial equipment with different functions are responsible for the 3D construction line. After the equipment responsible for transportation transports the material from the mining site to the construction site, the equipment responsible for intelligent paving will identify and measure the construction location and then lay the material.

After the material is laid, the equipment responsible for intelligent rolling will use GPS positioning to roll according to the planned path. If the quality of rolling is found to be unqualified, it will also arrange for re-construction on its own.

▲ Picture from: Journal of Tsinghua University

More importantly, from transportation to paving to rolling, there is no need for manual participation in the process. The equipment conducts construction according to the instructions issued by the dispatching center and feeds back the construction situation in real time through the network, which is convenient for the construction quality of the staff who are responsible for the control of the dispatching center and adjust the task instructions.

Through the cooperation of 3D printing technology and artificial intelligence, the most obvious role is to maintain the efficiency of construction, and in such a dangerous terrain, it is much safer to use intelligent equipment than manual work.

▲ Picture from: State Power Investment Corporation

However, the 3D printing technology system of this project does not require manual participation at all during construction. Except for the staff responsible for scheduling in the control center, the stone and earthwork used for the construction are extracted from the nearby mountainous areas in the dam material mining process. Manual operation is required.

Liu Tianyun's paper mentioned that the construction process of filling projects with relatively simple construction processes in engineering construction industries such as water conservancy dams, highways, and filling airports is actually quite similar to 3D printing.

▲ Picture from: Xinhua News Agency

Not only the Yangqu Hydropower Station, but if this technology can be applied to the filling projects of large-scale facilities, it can not only avoid possible errors in manual construction with the help of efficient assembly line operations, but also avoid the workers that may suffer in the traditional construction process. Danger and injury.

It is believed that this 150-meter-high dam will not only become a "green code" for providing clean energy, but also become a benchmark for 3D printing construction in China and the world.

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