The Power of Water: The Science Behind HydroDemolition

January 17, 2024

In the world of demolition, innovation has reshaped traditional methods, and one standout approach, HydroDemolition, stands at the forefront. Gone are the days when a jackhammer or chipping hammer  is needed to complete a concrete removal job.  While the spectacle of demolition often captures attention, the science behind a method like this is equally fascinating. Aggregate Technology has utilized the finest HydroDemolition equipment for many years now, we have been the leaders in this industry, and we understand how it works. Learn more about the fascinating science behind HydroDemolition below.

Understanding HydroDemolition

The Basics:

HydroDemolition is a controlled demolition technique that utilizes high-pressure water jets to remove concrete, coatings, and other materials from surfaces. This method harnesses the power of water at immense pressure to break and remove the targeted material. This method is more exact than traditional methods, using precision cutting heads and robotics to help accurately and safely cut through concrete and other materials.

The Science at Work:

Water Pressure Dynamics:

HydroDemolition machines generate pressures ranging from 8,000 to 40,000 psi (pounds per square inch). This high-pressure water jet is directed at the concrete surface, exploiting the material’s natural fissures and weak points to break it apart. The high-pressure water exceeds the strength of the concrete to widen existing pores and microcracks, breaking it apart in a controlled manner. This may sound destructive, but it’s less destructive than your traditional methods, like a jackhammer or chipping hammer. 

Impact Force:

The force generated by the water jet causes micro-explosions on the concrete surface. As the water penetrates the concrete, it expands rapidly due to the pressure, dislodging the material in the process. However, unlike traditional concrete cutting equipment, HydroDemolition equipment doesn’t cause micro-cracks.

Even though HydroDemolition uses considerable force, it remains a low-impact method, therefore reducing or eliminating damage to the surface, the rebar, and surrounding structures. A recent study has shown that jackhammers produce micro-cracks, but also that there is no difference in the number of cracks produced by a 35-lb jackhammer, compared to a 65-lb jackhammer. The ultimate MDOT recommendation was that HydroDemolition should be used whenever possible.


Precision Control:

Our robotic systems are highly precise. Operators can control the water pressure, flow rate, and nozzle movement to target specific areas without damaging the underlying structure. The HydroDemolition equipment that Aggregate Technologies uses can be operated by just two workers. Our team is highly trained and completely drug-free. This creates a trustworthy, efficient team to operate state-of-the-art equipment.Our HydroDemolition process involves the most sophisticated robotic system available. It utilizes a computer-guided water jet on a track-mounted machine that is guided over the surface to be removed. The precision cutting head can be programmed to cut a specific shape without the added overruns or relief cuts, such as a manhole or ductwork. Concrete decks and flooring are removed with the cutting head on the ground, and the machine can also articulate along a vertical wall surface and overhead areas up to 23 feet without support.

The Longevity of Innovation:

Compared to jackhammers or chipping hammers, HydroDemolition is a more impact-free process, which eliminates vibrations that cause microfractures and other damages in the sound concrete. These microfractures tend to significantly damage the structure’s integrity. 

The HydroDemolition equipment leaves behind a rough, “craggy” profile in the concrete after it’s finished removing the initial layer. This irregular surface provides the ideal texture for bonding to the newly poured concrete or material.

Alternatives, such as 15-30 pound chipping hammers or hand-held breakers tend to leave layers of dangerous dust and damaged concrete with small cracks. These small cracks can extend as much as 1 inch (10-20 millimeters) into the residual concrete. As a result, the bonding for new concrete can potentially be spoiled.

While this process harnesses the awesome force of high-powered water jets, this method does not damage steel rebar like a chipping hammer. And as a natural result of high-pressure water, rust, and scale can be removed, leaving the material clean and intact. Further, when placed in the scope of bridge repair, HydroDemolition has a lot more to offer. The Swedish Cement and Concrete Research Institute has reported a repair life expectancy of 21-35 years for HydroDemolition. This is in comparison to 7-12 years for mechanical chiseling.

Advantages of HydroDemolition


Unlike traditional demolition methods, HydroDemolition selectively removes targeted material without causing micro-fractures or damaging the structural integrity of surrounding surfaces. This increases longevity by up to 20 years more than traditional methods!


Environmental Impact:

This method minimizes silica dust, reducing the risk of environmental pollution and health hazards for workers. Not only is silica dust greatly reduced, but the water used can be recycled. More than half of the water used in a job gets recycled; once the water is treated and reaches a PH level of 6-9, it may be released back into the environment. This method saves water, reduces pollution and materials, reduces possible catastrophes due to damage, and also cuts down on noise pollution as well. HydroDemolition has been touted as the sustainable form of demolition, and for good reason.

Efficiency and Safety:

The controlled nature of HydroDemolition enhances safety by reducing the risk of accidents and speeding up the demolition process. Aggregate Technologies takes it further by making sure that our team members are extensively trained.  We take safety very seriously, with our TRIR being 0. Our EMR data is readily available. Further, Aggregate Technologies has a written safety and health program from OSHA guidelines that includes multiple work practices and procedures. We make sure that our crew is drug-free and healthy, and that every member is skilled in everything from electrical grounding assurance to fall protection. We also have had no regulatory citations for many years.  We have won numerous STEP, Eagle Awards, and many others for excellent safety records and projects that required safety and excellence.  Safety | Aggregate Technologies, Inc. | Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida, Gulf Coast

We make sure that our projects are completely efficient and safe, utilizing amazing technologies such as ground penetrating radar, robotic demolition, HydroDemoliton, pile cutting, and much more. We have multiple checks and balances in place to ensure that each job can be considered our best job.

HydroDemolition Equipment

Aggregate Technology uses many state-of-the-art HydroDemoliton equipment. All of them are engineered to get the job done on budget, on time, and with optimal results. Our equipment can be operated with just two operators present and features robotic controllers that allow our team members to take a step back when working, giving a better vantage point and greater security. There are many styles of HydroDemolition equipment available, from handhelds to more complex systems, and all of them are a step in the right direction. 

HydroDemolition epitomizes the marriage of technology and science in the field of demolition. Its precision, efficiency, and environmentally friendly nature have made it a cornerstone in modern demolition practices. Aggregate Technologies is at the forefront of this, providing even the most unconventional jobs with outstanding results.

In the ever-evolving landscape of construction and demolition, the science behind HydroDemolition continues to shape the industry, offering a safer, more efficient, and precise method for structure removal and rehabilitation. To see this process in action, or to learn more about how Aggregate Technologies and HydroDemoltion can serve you, contact us today!

Contact us when you need a contractor with a record of safety and success for your concrete cutting and hydrodemolition needs.

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