Along with the drilling fluid, a reliable method of delivery to the drill is needed. This is called a mixing system or mud system. The mud system delivers the fluid to an onboard pump (on smaller horizontal directional drills) or a standalone pump that feeds into a larger rig (generally 100,000-pound capacity or larger.) With the rise of mud recycling in drilling, reclaimers are becoming more prominent on jobsites.

These are a type of mud system that “cleans” the used mud and recirculates it back into the mixing system to be reused. An HDD contractor needs to make sure to use the right kind of mud and the proper equipment to effectively supply the correct amount of fluid into the pump and downhole.

mud system

Rising costs of mud disposal and the limited availability of disposal sites are driving some HDD contractors to reuse their drilling fluid, which requires a reclaimer. Environmental concerns are also a factor so we are seeing more reclaimers required in drilling specs,” says Heinen. “Also mud disposal is cost prohibitive and we are seeing an increase in mud recycling requirements on job sites.”

The reclaimer is generally configured with multiple tanks which can include a clean mud tank, a dirty fluid tank and a desander and/or desilter tank. Dirty fluid is drawn from the return pit and pumped across the first cut shaker(s), which sift out all the larger particles of sand and debris. Then the fluid is pumped through the desander cones where a cyclonic motion is used to eliminate even smaller particles, and again across a shaker screen equipped with a finer mesh screen to further the cleaning process. The fluid finally passes through desilter cones and again across a final set of shakers and screens, which separate out the smallest micron particles from the drilling fluid completing the cleaning process. Each deck on the reclaimer uses progressively smaller screens to remove micron-sized elements from the fluid.
Once through, the fluid is stored in the clean mud tank ready to be recirculated back down hole.

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