Recycler Maintenance by John Miller

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Purchasing a Mud Recycling System

Here Are a Few Tips Before Making that Purchase

Published in Trenchless Technology March 9, 2012

One major asset to a driller on location is the right mud recycling system. But, how do you know which manufacturer and size mud recycling system is the right one for you?

There is certain information that you need in order to make a well informed decision and before you cut the check on buying this big ticket item.

The factors that you should consider when sizing a mud system are:

1) Type of drill you will be using
2) The drill rate
3) The type of solids
4) The length of your bore
5) The GPM of the pump
6) The tank volume you will need
7) The number of cones
8) The screen size

These factors are important to know so that you use a recycler that is adequate enough to clean the mud and protect the components on the rig, pump and cleaner. Once you have decided on the size of the mud system you need, there is more information that you should be armed with:

Gallons per Minute: When deciding the size of a mud system that you will need, it is best to base it on 1 ½ to two times the amount you are pumping. Example: If you are pumping 250 gals, you would want to go with a 500-gpm unit.

Trailer or Skid: Depending on your requirements, mud systems can be trailer mounted or skid mounted. Trailer-mounted units require dedicated trailer (built to unit). Skid-mounted unit can be removed from trailer which releases the trailer for other duties.

Screen surface: The more screen surface area you have means more volume that you can clean.

Screen selection: The mesh size of screens is measured by the number of holes per square inch on the screen. Different mesh sizes control the size of the cuttings that you remove. The same mesh size will not work in all drilling conditions. Sizes will vary depending on the size of the cuttings and the type of formations you are cleaning.

Shakers: There are three types of shakers (orbital, elliptical and linear). Orbital is a circular motion and elliptical isn’t perfectly circular — it’s an ellipse or oval. Linear has vibration that is induced by a pair of eccentric (or eccentrically weighted) shafts turning in opposite directions. This type of arrangement allows for the development of straight line or linear motion that can also be produced in a positive (uphill) incline.
While each shaker has a specific place that it will shine like the price, the ability to process heavy clays and rock or fines and ultra-fines, our overall preference is the linear.

Cones: Depending on the size of the mud system you choose, the cone size will either be 4, 5, 10 or 12 in. Each size cone has a micron cut point, which is the size of the smallest particle that the cone can pull out. The 4- and 5-in. cones have a micron cut of 20 microns and the 10- and 12-in. have a 74 micron cut.
Hydrocyclone cones process the liquid at a rate of 50 gpm with the 4-in. cones, 80 gpm with the 5-in. and 500 gpm with the 10- or 12-in. cones.

Cones need pressure to work properly. A normal operating pressure range for 4- and 5-in. cones is 30 to 40 psi, 10- and 12-in. cones is 23 to 35 psi.

Trash Pump: Do you have a trash pump for your recycler? Trash pumps are designed to pump large amounts of water that contains hard and soft solids. Trash pumps are capable of processing materials that would clog other centrifugal pumps and can move hundreds or even thousands of gallons per minute.

Parts & Service: Mud systems have a lot of moving parts that must be maintained in order to keep them in premium working order. If you do not grease and adjust centrifugal packing on a regular basis, it will leak causing not only a mess but also a hazardous work environment.

Bearings require lubrication for long life. Cones can get plugged with debris making them inactive thus reducing your cleaning capacity. Screens get torn allowing trash to get into the system causing plugging problems.

It is inevitable that you will need replacement parts and screens for your mud systems. You want to be sure that you have a reliable source that can deliver the parts you need, when and where you need them.

Customization: What if you want to modify cleaning system? Would you rather have electric or hydraulic? Or paint it your company colors? Can you get an epoxy coating on the inside of the tank?

If your jobsite happens to be in a hazardous environment, you will want to be sure that a unit can be modified so that it is explosion proof.

For overseas jobs, you will need different electrical requirements, i.e 50 hertz as opposed to 60 hertz; can the manufacturer meet these requirements?

There are specialty applications; you should have options for a specialty piece of equipment. Be sure to check what, if any options are offered.

Environmental Awareness: In an age where our environment is a major concern, so should your choice of mud systems. You want to choose a unit that is respectful to the environment and will leave your jobsite as clean as possible.

Training: If you and/or your drilling crew have never operated a mud cleaning system you will want to be sure that you are provided with training. Knowing the maintenance requirements of your mud system will save you time and money. Usually the owner’s manual is sufficient but you may also want be assured that the manufacturer offers training videos, onsite or plant training sessions and the most important, technical support. There is nothing like knowing you have tech support when you are out in the field.

Financing Options: If you have never used a mud system or have limited experience with one, try it before you buy it. Rent a unit to see if it is the right fit for you and your company. You may also want to check if there is any type of financing available.

Warranty: Last but not least — a warranty. Be sure that you protect your investment and be sure of the manufacturer’s warranty. Don’t settle for less than a one year warranty. You need to know that a manufacturer stands behind their product.

Do your research, talk to other drillers, decide what you need and you will be able to make the best decision for you and your company.


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