Dry Bulk

The Use of Clay as an Industrial Lubricant

Posted by on Wednesday, January 13, 2016 in Dry Bulk, News

hauling dry bulk clay

Clay as we know it today has come far from its humble beginnings forming pots, vases, and dinnerware. Today, clay comes into play in several areas of modern construction.

One such area is the use of industrial clay as a lubricant during the drilling of boreholes. These boreholes are drilled in search of natural gas, oil, and to create water wells.

While there are a variety of lubricants used for various applications in the drilling industry, we will look at the main two which contain clay. These are known as;

  • Water-Based Mud (WBM) – The lubricant known as water-based mud is essentially a mixture of clay particles suspended in water. Bentonite clay and other components are added to the water, creating a substance with a viscosity similar to that of chocolate milk while flowing. The bentonite clay is sometimes referred to as ‘gel,’ likely due to the fact that when pumping is stopped, the WBM creates a gel-like structure which resists flowing. Once adequate pressure is reapplied to break the gel’s stagnation, the compound flows freely again.
  • Oil-Based Mud (OBM) – Like WBM, oil-based mud is a compound suspended within a fluid. However, this time the fluid is some type of petroleum product, such as diesel fuel. This form of lubrication can be chosen over WBM for many reasons, such as greater cleaning ability, increased lubrication properties, and better dust and particle control.

These lubricating compounds have many functions, some of which include;

  • Protecting and cooling the drill bit during operation.
  • Suspending loose particles and other debris during drilling.
  • Providing hydraulic energy to drilling tools and bit.
  • Minimize environmental impact.
  • Reduce corrosion.
  • Remove cuttings and debris from the borehole.

Of course, clay isn’t just used as lubrication. It can also be used for its excellent filtration and containment properties. If you would like to know more about the industrial uses of clay, sand, fly ash, slag, and other minerals, then we invite you to explore our website. If you require transportation of these materials, then contact us today.

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