Reclaimer Helps Minimize Sand’s Damage Potential to HDD Tooling

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On large-diameter horizontal directional drilling (HDD) projects, maintaining fluid properties prescribed by the mud plan is key to maximum efficiency, and managing sand content is an important element of adhering to the mud plan.

Failing to maintain a low percentage of sand content in your drilling fluid when recycling can lead to premature wear on — and over time, premature failure of — tooling and other components, leading to increased cost and time to complete a job. That’s where the Vermeer R250C reclaimer comes in.

Employing the right reclaimer, like an R250C, can help minimize the damage that abrasive sand and other low-gravity solids can cause by removing them from the drilling fluid. The process starts with basic awareness of soil conditions on the jobsite and which shaker screens will optimize performance. For a reclaimer, that sand content should not be more than .5% and ideally should be less than .25%, according to Vermeer Pipeline Corporate Account Manager Andy Bremner.

Contractors need to be checking sand content, viscosity and mud weight multiple times per shift to check that their fluid properties are as they should be.

Sand’s Damage Potential

When pumping recycled fluid with high sand content, it’s like “taking highly abrasive, coarse sandpaper and rubbing it on all downhole tooling and mud pump wearables,” Bremner said. Sand-laden drilling fluid is also heavier, which can be problematic for a variety of reasons, like increased pressures in the bore hole.

Sand content of 2% might not sound like much, however it does not take a high percentage to potentially cause an issue. Consider this scenario: You’re pumping 180 gal (681.4 L) of fluid per minute, which is 10,800 gal (40,882.4 L) per hour. If the fluid deployed down hole has a 2% sand content, that amounts to 216 gal (817.8 L) of sand pumped into the bore every hour. Considering the same scenario with sand content at .25% — frequently referred to as a trace amount — that adds up to just 27 gal (102.2 L) of sand per hour.

“Just imagine what all that sand is doing to your tooling, drill rod, consumables, pistons and liners in your mud pump, not to mention your mud weight, which may rise prematurely because of all those low-gravity solids,” Bremner said. “That could result in greater consumption of water and drilling fluid additives because you may need to dump it and start over.”

How the Right Reclaimer Helps

Utilizing the right reclaimer can help operators keep sand content low, thereby having an effect on the continuity and productivity of an HDD operation. An R250C features a balanced elliptical-shaker motion ideal for separating lower-gravity solids like abrasive sand or course silt.

A 45° manifold reduces turbulence and helps drilling fluid flow consistently to hydrocyclones, while suction-breakers help prevent the vacuum effect drilling fluid creates when abruptly changing directions. In addition, two shaker decks help separate out particles in two steps, with the latter featuring tighter screens that maximize the separation of finer particles like sand and silt.

These components add up to a reclaimer that helps HDD operators minimize the potential damage that sand can inflict upon their equipment on the job.


“These features help operators maintain very low sand content, and it’s just one of the many reasons this machine can be a good business decision for our customers,” Bremner said.

Learn More

Start here to see if an R250C is right for your HDD operation. If you’re ready to step toward integrating an R250C into your operation, find your nearest Vermeer dealer.

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