Monday, October 20, 2014

Waterjetting 26b - Jet positions to help bit cutting

The addition of a high-pressure waterjet to the leading edge of a sharp tool can make a considerable difference to the performance of that tool. I have discussed this a little in two earlier posts, the first of which was an introduction to the topic, and the second highlighted the problems of getting the nozzle close to the active contact zone so that it can be effective.

In this post I will discuss the benefits that this jets can create in the performance of the machine. The discussion is largely focused on rock excavations, since that is where most of the basic and applied research was developed, but, as I also mentioned previously, this benefit can also be gained if the jets are added to machine tools that are cutting into metal – even metals that are otherwise hard to machine.

The idea of pushing a sharp(ish) tool into rock to break it out goes back to the deer antler picks used to pry flints from chalk some thousands of years ago. But it worked, although the picks are now made of metal and powered by machines. The shapes have also changed over the years.

To make an effective cut requires two different sets of forces be applied to the picks. The first of these is the one that pushes the pick into the rock and gives it the depth of cut that is needed. (I’ll call this the Normal or Thrust Force, since it acts perpendicular to the surface being cut). The second is the force required to pull the tool along the face, this is often referred to as the Cutting or Drag force. Neither are very constant in rock (as opposed to metal cutting) since the rock will chip around the but as it moves forward, which frees and blocks the passage of the tool as it moves.

As I mentioned last time, pushing the tool into the rock will cause the rock under the tool to crush, and then re-compact, if the particles aren’t removed. Thus the most effective time to remove them comes as the tool first breaks them free from the solid. This also saves the energy that would otherwise go into not only further crushing, but also re-compacting the particles. Once they are re-compacted and compressed they become harder to remove and help increase the friction on the tool that cause it to heat, and weaken.

But if the particles are effectively removed, then the region under the bit is washed free, there is less confinement on the remaining rock, and it becomes easier to break.

Figure 1. Crushed rock under an indenting tool. (Richard Gertsch)

Figure 2. Crushed rock under an indenting tool, with the tool removed and a 10,000 psi jet fired at the contact point after removal. Note that there is still some crushed rock that was not removed.

Figure 3. Crushed rock removed during crushing by a jet pointed under the bit as it indented the rock (basalt) (Richard Gertsch)

The impact on the forces that the bit sees can be dramatic. In the early tests of drag bits in cutting the quartzite rock that holds the gold veins in South Africa, Dr. Michael Hood took a tool that normally stalled out under full load, when it was cutting into the rock to a depth of 4mm.

Figure 4. Normal forces on a bit (in KN) without jet assistance (black) where the machine stalls at 4 mm penetration, and with jets at different locations along the cutting face.

Mike tried a number of different locations for the jets at varying points over the face of the drag bit. Initially he used higher pressure merely as a way of getting enough water to the bit to keep it cool, but quickly saw that the performance was greatly improved. As Figure 4 shows, the normal force pushing the bit into the rock was considerably lowered, even when the depth of cut into the rock was increased almost three-fold, with the best location for the jets showing that the machine retained considerably capacity for cutting.

Similar results were obtained with improvement in the cutting forces seen in pulling the bit down the face.

Figure 5. Change in cutting forces with high pressure jet applications to a cutting tool in basalt (Mike Hood)

Again the machine stalled with a depth of cut of 4 mm, without waterjet assistance, and cut to more than 11 mm depth with power to spare with waterjets in the optimal location. This was found to be at the corners of the cutting tool, since in this location the jets were confined by the uncut rock on either side of the tool, and thus rebounded to cover the entire line of contact between the bit and the rock.

Figure 6. Optimal location for the jets on the drag bit for cutting South African Quartzite. (Mike Hood)

For the jet to work most effectively the water must continue to remove all the crushed material from under the bit as it is created. Where the rock is already fractured (as it may be because of natural ground fractures or high stresses on the face because of the depth at which mining takes place) then the confinement of the space around the tool can be less and this reduces the ability of the water to spread along the face of the tool and remove all the crushed rock as it is formed.

Others have also looked at the position of the jet relative to the cutting face, and sometimes, especially in harder rock, where the jet can intersect broken rock above the cutting tool, it may be better to bring the jet into the crushed zone from behind the bit.

Figure 7. Changing bit performance with change in jet pressure at three jet positions relative to the bit. (After Ropchan, Wang and Walgamott).

A slightly different experiment was tried by French investigators who tried locating waterjets around the carbide inserts of a drilling bit. Part of the problem with such bits is to ensure not only that the nozzle is close enough to the crushing zone as to remove the rock, but also to make sure that the nozzle is close enough to the surface that the jet retains enough power. In this particular case, by drilling a small hole through the carbide tool, the investigators were able to bring the two tip jets to the point that they needed, with enough power to be effective. This is shown by the ability to achieve a rate of penetration (ROP) which was more than double that of a conventional bit, with only conventional cooling, for the same amount of thrust force.

Figure 8. Change in rate of penetration with change in jet location on a drill bit.

I’ll return to this topic next time.

Hood, M., A Study of Methods to Improve the Performance of Drag Bits used to cut Hard Rock, Chamber of Mines of South Africa Research Organization, Project No. GT2 NO2, Research Report No. 35/77, August, 1977.
Ropchan, D., Wang, F-D., Wolgamott, J., Application of Water Jet Assisted Drag Bit and Pick Cutter for the Cutting of Coal Measure Rocks, Final Technical Report on Department of Energy Contract ET-77-G-01-9082, Colorado School of Mines, April, 1980, DOE/FE/0982-1, 84 pages.


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