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Nikolaos is developing the blasting technology of the future

Taking part in the development of the blasting technology of the future at LKAB is an exciting challenge. With a background in the Greek islands, principal research engineer Nikolaos is all ready for a future in Sweden and Luleå, at LKAB.

Tell us about yourself and your background.

"I was born and raised in the Greek city of Patras. At the age of 18 I moved to Chania, Crete, to study mining engineering at the Technical University of Crete (TUC). That led to my first engineering degree. There, during my final two years of study, I focussed on the development of mine blasting methods and received two first-class grants from my university. To further my knowledge in blasting methods and technology, my professor suggested the Swedish Blasting Research Center (Swebrec).  I moved to Luleå and began studies in blasting technology at Luleå University of Technology (LTU). Then, I continued with doctoral studies at LTU and received the Bergforsk Award for the best doctoral thesis in 2018. In May 2018, after completing my doctoral studies, I began working at LKAB as a principal research engineer."

NikolaosPetropoulos_-8130.jpgWhat do you work with at LKAB?

"Improving the safety and efficiency of the charging procedure, the actual process of filling drill holes with explosives. The project involves development of new tools and techniques that will improve safety and productivity during the charging process. To make very precise prototypes of these tools quickly, I use the latest additive manufacturing (3D printing) technology."

What is the best thing about your job?

"The best thing is being part of a project right from the inception of an idea and taking it all the way to a useful technology for application in the mine. At LKAB I get to interact and collaborate with many talented and multifaceted colleagues to create innovative technology. It is very gratifying to work for a company that is open to trying new ideas and techniques."

What challenges do you meet in your job?

"Introducing new ideas and tools that will enable continuous improvement of safety and productivity is a challenge, since the idea must undergo a series of rigorous tests. Coming up with ways of improving my ideas forces me to think outside the box. I am very happy when I achieve an objective."

How was the idea to make a protective visor for the healthcare sector born?

My friends and I were discussing ways of helping society in these troubling times. We talked about the shortage of personal protective equipment for medical use, and then came up with the idea of making protective equipment with the help of a 3D printer. I asked LKAB for permission to use the company's 3D printer to produce a protective visor according to Swedish medical guidelines. It turned out to be a great success."

How do you view your future? What will you be doing in ten years?

"I hope to continue developing and implementing new and sustainable blasting technologies that help to improve safety and productivity while reducing the environmental impact of mining. I also want to train the next generation of engineers and foster innovative thinking among them."

Name: Nikolaos Petropoulos
Age: 35 
Family: Single
Lives in: Luleå
Title: Principal Research Engineer at LKAB
Interests: TV games, spending time with friends, reading and space.
Most recently read book: Death by Black Hole
Favourite film: Interstellar