In this paper, the aim is to achieve safe, rapid excavation of an extra-long, large-cross-section highway tunnel in Eastern Tianshan, as well as to reduce production costs, simplify production processes, reduce cycle time, and improve production efficiency. In this study, we explored a new technology for smooth blasting without a detonating cord. A series of sympathetic detonation experiments were conducted in the tunnel face to determine critical distances. The critical distance for No. 2 rock emulsion explosive under blasthole constraints was successfully measured to be approximately 1.0–1.1 m. Based on the critical distance, a new charging structure was designed for tunnel excavation. To assess the influence of the new charging structure on blasting performance, its economic benefits, and its feasibility, full-section tests were performed in the East Tianshan Tunnel. The application of the new charging structure produced good smooth blasting results. It not only simplified the charging process and produced smooth blasting without detonating cord in peripheral holes, but also guaranteed normal excavation, an appropriate tunnel profile, and reasonable overbreak and underbreak volumes. This had remarkable economic benefits and possesses better promotional value.
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