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Bankaboor erfgoed TU Delft Delta

In this hundred-year old chest (photo) lie the components of the Bankaboor drill – in miniature. The model was donated to TU Delft by the Figee firm to illustrate the drill's capabilities to mining engineering students.

The Bankaboor drill, a true innovation, was designed by the young Johannes Evert Akkeringa (1829-1864), the fifth mining engineer to graduate from the former Royal Academy in Delft. His first job was on the island of Banka, near the southern tip of Sumatra, where the government of the Dutch East Indies was mining tin ore. The management wanted a drilling device that could locate the shallow tin sands more accurately. They were not satisfied with the traditional tjam the Chinese used to delve for tin.

The apparatus became a successful Dutch export product and is still used today in difficult to access areas

Akkeringa designed a 3-meter long pipe with a 10-centimetre diameter fitted with a cutting shoe. The long, extendible cylinder was driven into the earth by the weight of four men standing on a round platform at the top. Through a series of boreholes, it could accurately determine the depth, thickness and tin content of the ore bodies. After a few small improvements the apparatus became a successful Dutch export product. It is still used today in difficult to access areas to prospect for tin, gold and other minerals in soft rock.

Life in the tropics was extremely unhealthy

Unfortunately, Akkeringa barely had the opportunity to witness his invention's success. The first drill shipped from Amsterdam to Banka in 1860. Just four years later, at the age of 35, in Buitenzorg (now Bogor, West Java) Akkeringa succumbed to the typhus he had contracted on Borneo. Alas, life in the tropics was difficult and extremely unhealthy for many Delft mining engineers.

Source: B. Manders, 175 jaar TU Delft, Erfgoed in 33 verhalen, published by Histechnica, 2017.

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