September 2015 Vol. 70 No. 9

Equipment Spotlight

Saving Big with Micro Recyclers

Ditch Witch® MR90 mud recycling system

“Micro” drilling fluid recycling systems are becoming a “game changer” for many horizontal directional drilling (HDD) contractors who operate small- to medium-size drill rigs.

“Contractors who are using our new Ditch Witch® MR90 mud recycling system report significant savings in drilling fluid costs which in turn is allowing them to complete projects at substantially less cost and faster than would be possible without a reclaiming system,” said Ditch Witch Product Manager Seth Matthesen.

The MR90 fills a void in HDD support equipment, he added.

“It is designed,” Matthesen explained, “specifically for drill units with pullback ratings from 20,000 to 60,000 pounds, the most widely-used drill rigs in service today. Until recently, most recycling systems were designed to support large drill rigs making long, deep installations of large diameter pipes. Without recycling, the cost of drilling fluids would make many such projects cost prohibitive.”

The compact, trailer-mounted MR90 is a self-contained drilling fluid mixing and recycling system and is the only unit in its class with an integrated rear spoil hopper with mixer to introduce drying additives. It also is the only system of its class that can be transported while the spoil tank is full.

Powered by a 25-horsepower Tier 4 diesel engine, the MR90 has a 340-gallon first-pass mud tank, and 110-gallon clean tank with three-inch vacuum connections for easy cleanout. It has a two-screen system and is the only unit in its class with six 2½-inch desander cones.

Maximum recycle flow rate and pumping cleaned fluid to the drill unit is 90 gallons per minute. Shaker screen area is 1,218 square inches with coarse and fine screen options. Its design facilitates fast screen replacement. A 300-gallon fresh water tank with transfer pump provides additional drilling fluid capacity and high pressure water for clean-up.

Although there are multiple benefits to mud recycling, most significant are cost savings for water and fluid additives and the expense of collecting, transporting and disposing of used fluids when a project is completed.

For example, a 30,000-pound pullback drill unit may pump 20,000 gallons of fluid during the course of an installation. Using a recycling system, the drilling unit could pump that volume using only 1,500 gallons of mixed fluids, a savings of 18,500 gallons of water and as much as $1,500 of additives.

Reducing drilling fluid volume decreases the number of water trucks needed to bring water supplies. Typically, fuel costs for such trucks are measured in miles per gallon (mpg) which can vary widely. Conservative estimates would be about 10 mpg for a loaded truck, 15 mpg empty. To collect used drilling fluid, vacuum trucks or trailers burn from 1 to 2½ gallons per hour, but the cost of having a large vac truck on site can cost as much as $2,500 per day. Fuel costs for trucks hauling used fluids is about the same as operating water supply trucks.

There also are environmental benefits to recycling. The most obvious is a reduced carbon footprint. Fewer machines burning fuel produces less emissions. Lower volumes of fluid used means conservation of precious water, and less fluid to clean up lowers emissions released into the atmosphere from trucks hauling water supplies and disposing of used fluids. In addition, the HDD process itself is less disruptive to the overall environment and, in fact, often is required for construction in environmentally-sensitive areas.

“Saving precious and costly water, reducing fuel and labor costs, lowering carbon footprints, making work sites more environmentally friendly, increasing productivity and profitability – obviously recycling drilling fluids makes sense,” said Matthesen. “Developing a fluid recycler specifically for mid-size equipment is another example of how the Ditch Witch factory anticipates the needs of our customers. Their business is our business – we’re in it together.”

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