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Mine Wolf
Jeremy Faludi, 3 Dec 04


Who invented the new, most promising land-mine-clearing device ever made? The one that the UN's ReliefWeb calls "the first mine clearing machine that deserves this name"? The one that can clear land nearly ten times as fast as the best machines around, and 200 times as fast as people with dogs (the old-fashioned way)? Was it the US military, or any military, for that matter? No. The UN? No. A retired German engineer named Heinz Rath, according to Frankfurter Allgemeine, decided "a landmine isn't much different than a sugar beet" and based his design off of the common tractor.

The result was Mine Wolf, a 16-ton, nearly-million-dollar machine that can clear nearly 2000 square meters per hour. But that's light, cheap, and blazing-fast compared to what has come before: As Frankfurter Allgemeine's excellent article describes, "It took the German Ministry of Defense over 20 years and almost €40 million to develop the Keiler demining machine. But the 54-ton tank serves a strictly military purpose by clearing a path through minefields to allow troops to advance... [and] covers only 270 square meters an hour." Rath, by contrast, wanted a device that would be effective for humanitarian purposes, to clear the land for civilians after wars are over. The article continues, "mines continue to maim and kill between 15,000 and 20,000 people each year according to UNICEF. Around 90 percent of the victims are civilians."

James Madison University's Mine Action Information Center describes the Mine Wolf's methodology: "Clearance of mixed AP/AT [anti-personnel/anti-tank] minefields is divided into two phases. First, the flail system detonates or breaks up the AP and AT mines. Then, with a ground penetration depth of 30 cm, the tiller system breaks up the remaining intact mines and reduces the size of components left by the flail. ...[the latter is necessary because] Experience has proven that during demining mines can be destroyed without exploding... The partially destroyed mines remain as a residual risk."

Oh, and after you're done clearing the mines, you can refit the Mine Wolf as a normal tractor (albeit a beefy one), to farm with.

This also reminds me of the device that took a mine-layer machine and modified it so that it planted trees instead, doing so far faster than any other tree-planting devices that exist. (Invented, I think, by an Israeli in South America.) Unfortunately I can't find anything about it online--hey, readers, can anyone post a link?

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This is soooo cool. I really like this one.

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 3 Dec 04

have y'all seen this one?

who needs a 16-ton, million-dollar machine when you can just plant some handy-dandy GMOs? OK, 2000 m2/hour is pretty fucking impressive, true. still, an interesting alternative approach, and obviously not without some advantages of its own.

Posted by: John Atkinson on 6 Dec 04

Ok John,
I see core77 ,interesting but i prefer the brute force of machine of Heinz, effective at all and secure , thing for you guy and not the poor Cambodgians o Vietnamies people , and i am shure if the bigs companies of Bulldozer o agriculture machine will make an option for producing kit adaptable the price will be very low .....
But man is not interesting in that , he prefer war ,machine of war, to destroy himself !!!

Posted by: Alex on 8 Dec 04



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