Autonomy and lightness for construction gears on the Lyon – Turin railway tunnel

Interview of Gregory PLAIN – Research Unit Engineer of ACRI Ingénierie

Machine multifonctions ACRI Ingénierie

ACRI Ingénierie is an Ardèche-based company founded in 2010.

It is specialized in the conception, manufacturing and commissioning of specific machines among which:

  • Machines specialized in the achievement of prefabricated concrete parts,
  • Hoists, platforms and nacelles for public works,
  • Mobile robots for pickling and painting,
  • Civil engineering equipment.

Since it was created, ACRI Ingénierie has intervened on many large-scale public works projects alongside with actors such as VINCI or EDF. The company has notably collaborated with EDF on hydropower plants sites for the manufacturing of multifunction gears.

The company also have its own Research Unit in order to accompany its customers in the creation of specific projects from their design to their commissioning phase. Thus, it benefits from a unique expertise to propose custom and suitable solutions on improvement, production line and infrastructure projects among others.

ACRI Ingénierie

The project

ACRI Ingénierie is involved in the construction of the international railway between Lyon and Turin. This colossal construction implies to create a mixed freight/high-speed line divided into 3 sections:

  • A 140 km French section between Lyon and Saint Jean de Maurienne’s railway station with SNCF Réseau as project owner. This part of the project includes works in France with the construction of several tunnels, viaducts and connections to the current network,
  • A 65 km Italian section between Susa Valley and Turin with the Italian railway infrastructure manager RFI (Rete Ferroviaria Italiana) as project owner,
  • A 65 km transnational section between the cities of Saint Jean de Maurienne in Savoie and Bussoleno in Piedmont (Italy) with the Franco-Italian company TELT (Tunnel Euralpin Lyon Turin) as project owner.

The transnational section notably implies the construction of a 57.5 Km long tunnel which is expected to become the longest one of its kind in the world. The excavation work under the Alps has already started and is pursued on January 2023 in Saint Julien Montdenis. Works will keep going on the next decade until the tunnel’s commissioning planned in 2032.

EN carte-interconnexion copyright Projet lyon turin

Challenge and implementation of the project

Concerning ACRI Ingénierie’s intervention, the transnational section is concerned notably with the achievement of the base tunnel currently under construction under Mont Cenis in the Alps. This tunnel will allow to link Saint Jean de Maurienne and Suse railway stations where connections to current French and Italian rail lines with be located.

The Ardèche-based company has been hired by VINCI Construction to achieve 4 ventilation shafts starting at the bottom of Modane’s winze and reaching the surface on Avrieux municipality. These parallel and vertical shafts will be used as tunnels to transport workers, concrete and scrap down as part of the base tunnel construction. Thus, these shafts with a 5.2 meters diameter will allow to go 500 meters deep.

The construction of these shafts has required the use of a Raise Boring Machine until last February in order to dug base holes. Another 40 tons specific device is required to achieve the upcoming steps ACRI Ingénierie is involved, namely steel reinforcement then concrete shuttering. This multifunction platform will also allow to transport workers and the necessary material at a 500 meters depth. Tests are planned over a three-weeks period after the laying of this machine in order to ensure the construction site’s safety.

Energy requirements

The multifunction platform will also allow to route nacelles and hoists used on the construction site. ACRI Ingénierie used to power devices with lead batteries but there were many issues notably because of their weight. Indeed, lead batteries are often heavy which can lead to difficult handling. Concerning the relevant project, batteries must be swapped every day to be recharge between uses. These changes imply to frequently move batteries which means they must be carried often.

Consequently, ACRI Ingénierie’s Engineers have turned to the lithium technology through TYVA Energie’s batteries. Indeed, the company was looking for a local partner which could offer a similar energy capacity than lead batteries while being less heavy. TYVA Energie’s batteries solutions ended up being ideal to power gears and bring them lightness, power and autonomy.

Solutions brought and benefits

The Moduloo Ax lithium batteries range was used to fit with ACRI Ingénierie’s gears. Indeed, this range is characterized by its exceptional energy density up to 245 Wh/Kg providing compact, lightweight and very powerful batteries. Moreover, Moduloo Ax batteries confer great autonomy to the applications they power, thus allowing prolonged uses. Thanks to these various specificities, Moduloo Ax lithium batteries perfectly meet with ACRI Ingénierie’s expectations and were able to effectively replace lead batteries.

Indeed, a total of 8 batteries were required by ACRI Ingénierie to power 2 nacelles and 2 hoists for workers. Each gear features one lithium battery and has a replacement one to complete a rotation and replace the battery once it is discharged. First-time uses allowed ACRI Ingénierie to find out that a single Moduloo Ax A4+ lithium battery was enough to achieve complete 8-hours continuous workday. This autonomy allows workers to only use one battery per day, reducing rotation and handling amount and therefore increase the workers’ productivity.

Finally, ACRI Ingénierie’s team could count on TYVA Energie’s expertise regarding lithium batteries powering their gears. Operators have benefited from essential information exchange concerning lithium’s complex technology. They were able to learn more about the battery itself, as well as its specificities and its functioning.

Moduloo Ax A4+ TYVA Energie

What about now?

ACRI Ingénierie’s intervention on the tunnel construction of the transnational section between Lyon and Turin is the second biggest project the company has ever worked on. After comparing various batteries technologies, the company’s Engineers decided they would no longer use lead batteries to power their construction machines. Indeed, they were convinced by the efficiency of TYVA Energie’s lithium batteries providing more autonomy and therefore better productivity.

Follow the progress of the construction sites live on the website dedicated to the TELT tunnel

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