Why Mud Recycling is Crucial in HDD Projects


    Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) is a technology that many underground professionals vouch for when it comes to laying underground utilities without trenching. It’s virtually become a need, particularly in locations where surface disruption is prohibited due to the existence of structures or pockets that are environmentally sensitive.

    This practice benefits both the contractor and the residents living nearby who would otherwise be inconvenienced by dug-up roads and bottlenecks. But, an HDD contractor’s job doesn’t end with the installation. One also has to deal with one of the most significant and closely examined components of an HDD project: the used drilling mud or fluid.

    The Cost of Mud Recycling

    Drilling fluid disposal is quite expensive, and finding an approved disposal place is much more complex and expensive. Mud recycling is the most realistic and cost-effective solution to this problem.

    An HDD project’s success hinges on a good drilling fluid mix. Some projects use large quantities of drilling mud, particularly when working in rough terrain or drilling large diameter, long-distance bores. When drilling fluid returns to the surface, it carries dirt, sand, and rock cuttings from the bore, all of which must be removed before the fluid can be reused.

    After removing the cuttings, pebbles, sand, and tiny particles, the drilling fluid can be recycled and reused. For starters, not recycling fluids, particularly on a large project, will make fluid handling logistics unmanageable and expensive.

    Even with smaller rigs, recycling minimizes the quantity of water used, bentonite required, and fluid hauled away, saving time and money while also contributing to environmental conservation.

    In a nutshell, mud recycling;

    • Reduces the amount of water required and reduces fuel costs by eliminating the need for several trucks to transport water.
    • Reduces garbage disposal truck expenses and travel time.
    • Increases job productivity due to the drill’s constant operation.
    • When the rig is not in use, there is no need to mix drilling mud, which increases rig uptime.
    • Reduces the possibility of inadvertent returns.
    • Increases the hdd drilling machine’s
    • Reduces emissions and hence lowers carbon impact.

    The Mud Recycling Process

    Mud recycling systems can mix and recycle mud in most cases. There are three steps to the recycling process in general. Large solid particles are removed from the fluid via a shaker screen. It next passes through the de-sander cones, which remove sand and finer particles. Finally, any leftover solids are removed with a finer shaker screen.

    After adding the required mud material to achieve the desired consistency, the clean fluid can be reused. Throughout the project’s life cycle, the recycling procedure is repeated. The cost of additives, water transportation, and disposal are all reduced as a result of this method.

    Mud recycling units must be well-maintained to guarantee that the recycled mud is appropriately processed to perform like it was still used for the first time. Also, large particle sizes can flow through holes or perforations in screens, resulting in greater sand content levels. To prevent solids from caking, the screen’s performance can be improved by rinsing it continually throughout the operation and properly washing it at the end of shifts.

    The sand particles can also cause wear and tear on the de-sander cones, resulting in poor cone function. The impellers on centrifugal pumps can also be worn out by a high sand content.

    A professional operator is required to operate a mud recycling unit, just as a skilled operator is required to operate an HDD drill rig and insert drill rods into the ground. Mud recycling systems may mix fluids, recycle mud, and even be carried full, reducing the amount of mud disposal work for utility contractors.

    Drilling efficiency and job site productivity are all improved as a result of this. A qualified operator will know how to keep a sufficient amount of fluid in the system and conduct regular viscosity, sand content, and mud weight checks.

    Final Thoughts

    The trenchless construction industry is promoting horizontal directional drilling (HDD) as a practice that reduces environmental impacts usually brought about by traditional open-cut methods. Mud recycling systems will undoubtedly play a role in making HDD systems more efficient as we move forward.

    The ability to cut drilling fluid transportation time and expense, reduce the overall amount of drilling fluid products required, help extend the life service of an hdd drilling machine, reduce environmental impacts, and control your drilling fluid program are all reasons why we will see increased use of mud recycling systems in the future.