Use of Rotating Separators as an Alternative to Shale Shakers

The rotating separator process is based on a different principle than the shale shaker process. The mud line flow is fed into the slowly rotating separator. The drilling fluid contaminated with drilled cuttings is fed into the centre of a screen coated drum as shown schematically in Fig. 1. The outside of the drum is connected to an under-pressurised ventilation system.

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The dryer shaker, or dryer, is a linear motion shaker used to minimize the volume of liquid associated with drilled cuttings discharged from the main rig shakers and hydrocyclones. The liquid removed by the dryers is returned to the active system.

Why use dryer shaker

Dryers were introduced with the closed-loop mud systems and environmental efforts to reduce liquid-waste haul-off. Two methods, chemical and mechanical, are available to minimize liquid discharge. The chemical method uses a system called a dewatering unit, while the mechanical method takes place through linear motion shakers. These systems may be used separately or together.

The main function of drying shaker

The dryer shaker deliquifies drilled cuttings initially separated by another piece of solids-separation equipment. These drilled solids can be discharged from the main shaker or a bank of hydrocyclones. Dryers recover liquid discharged with solids in normal liquid/solids separation that would have been previously discarded from the mud system. This liquid contains colloidal solids, and the effect on drilling-fluid properties must be considered since dewatering systems are frequently needed to flocculate, coagulate, and remove these solids.

The dryer family incorporates pieces of equipment long used as independent units: the main linear motion shaker, the desander, and the desilter, which are combined in several configurations to discharge their discard across the fine screens (e.g., API 200) of a linear motion shaker to capture the associated liquid. These units, formerly used as mud cleaners, are mounted on the mud tanks, usually in line with the main linear motion shaker. They can be tied into the flowline to assist with fine screening when not being used as dryers. Their pumps take suction from the same compartments as desanders and desilters and discharge their overflow (effluent) into the proper downstream compartments.

How to use it

A linear motion dryer may be used to remove the excess liquid from the main shaker discharge. The flow rate across a linear motion dryer is substantially smaller than the flow rate across the main shaker. The lower flow rate permits the removal of the excess fluid by the linear motion dryer by using a finer screen. The dryer is usually mounted at a lower level than the other solids-separation equipment to use gravity to transport solids to it. Whether by slide or by conveyor, the cuttings dump into a large hopper, located above the screen, that replaces the back tank, or possum belly. As the cuttings convey along with the screen, they are again liquefied. This excess fluid, with the fine solids that passed through the screens, is collected in a shallow tank that takes the place of a normal sump. The liquid is pumped to a catch tank that acts as the feed for a centrifuge or back to the active system.

A dryer unit can be used to remove the excess fluid from the underflow of a bank of hydrocyclones (desanders or desilters). This arrangement resembles a mud cleaner system. In this configuration, the dryer unit may be used on either a weighted or an unweighted mud system. The liquid recovered by the linear motion shaker under the hydrocyclones can be processed by a centrifuge, as previously described.

How to select a proper one for your mud solution

The perfection of the linear motion shaker for drilling-fluid use, coupled with advanced fine-screen manufacturing technology, has made these dryers very efficient. In most configurations, the dryers use the same style of screens, motors, and/or motor/vibration combinations as do other linear motion shakers by the same manufacturer.

Depending on the fluid, saving previously discarded liquid may be financially advantageous. The dryer discard is relatively dry and can be handled by backhoe and dump truck rather than by vacuum truck.

Drilling-fluid properties must be monitored properly when the recovered liquid is returned to the active system. Large quantities of colloidal solids may be recovered with the liquid. This could affect the PV, YP, and gel strengths of a drilling fluid.