When it comes to horizontal directional drilling, one of the most important aspects is fluid cleaning. Fluid cleaning for HDD ensures that there is no contamination to the area being drilled. Contamination can come from several sources, including groundwater, surface water, other fluids used in drilling equipment, lubricants, etc.
The fact that fluid contamination is harmful to people’s health, environment and general equipment makes it vital to keep work areas clean, thus requiring fluid cleaning systems.
The Evolution of Fluid Cleaning Systems for HDD Applications
As more and more HDD contractors specialize in horizontal directional drilling (HDD) construction, fluid cleaning systems are becoming increasingly important. These systems use software that is connected to the drill rig’s water supply system to pump fluids down the drill string.
- The first fluid used is a bentonite slurry that fills the annulus between the machine and the pipe, allowing passage of air or gas.
- The second fluid is a high-pressure mud sweep, which removes excess cuttings from inside the hole. Finally, the drill string is pumped out until it reaches daylight, thus completing the HDD process.
Most importantly, these systems allow every hdd company and contractor to keep drill rigs moving throughout the day without having to stop for cleanouts or rely on conventional rig-up procedures that are time-consuming and costly.
Fluid cleaning systems also reduce negative impacts of HDD projects, such as repairs or modifications that require lane closures and extended work hours.
Fluid Cleaning Systems Improve Efficiency
Before the advent of fluid cleaning systems, HDD rigs had to stop every hour to 1.5 hours for cuttings removal (cleanout) with conventional rig-up procedures (washouts). This was costly and took hours to complete, not allowing for continuous drilling.
Fluid cleaning systems allow HDD rigs to keep moving throughout the day without stopping. The system pumps out old cuttings while simultaneously pumping in new bentonite or other drill fluid (mud), giving these machines the ability to stay busy. Because they can drill continuously, HDD rigs are drilling holes faster than ever before.
Drilling rig downtime due to cleanouts has been reduced thanks to the advent of the fluid cleaning system drastically. These systems allow every hdd company and contractor to plan more efficiently, which saves time and money. The ability to drill continuously also reduces labour costs since fewer employees are needed per shift.
Fluid Cleaning Systems Reduce Environmental Impacts
HDDs produce little noise and have a smaller footprint than other construction methods, making them a green choice for cities and utilities looking to modify utilities below the surface.
These systems also allow contractors to drill under highways without having to halt traffic or close lanes – a major concern in urban areas. Because fluid cleaning systems keep HDD rigs moving and clean the hole as they go, there is less chance for environmental damage.
What Fluid Cleaning Systems Do Not Solve
In spite of how effective these systems can be in reducing operating costs, there are some limitations. While these machines have successfully prevented problematic delays in cities and other sensitive areas, they can’t prevent all possible problems.
Flooding is also an issue with fluid cleaning systems. If water supply lines are not clearly marked before the drill begins, contractors may hit pipes while digging or accidentally cause another kind of infrastructure failure or disruption. These machines are simply not yet advanced enough to avoid all problems.
Bentonite Drilling Fluid is Still the Best Option
One thing that fluid cleaning systems don’t change is the fact that bentonite drilling muds are still the best way to complete HDD construction projects. These fluids ensure that drill bits stay clean and cuttings transport properly into the cutter head, allowing contractors to complete the job more quickly and with fewer expensive stop-and-clean procedures.
Continuous drilling is a far superior option for HDD construction projects than other methods; fluid cleaning systems make these rigs even better. These machines are already eliminating costly delays and negative impacts on communities. However, they still have room to get even greener, and the current green benefits are already making a big difference for utilities and contractors.