Mechanism of Thinner Action in lnhibited Muds

CIM Bulletin, 1958


An economy drilling programme is one which costs the !east in chemicals, equipment, and time. The basis for such a programme with rotary drilling techniques is a drilling fluid in which bentonites do not swel!. This is recognized in the growing trend toward gyp and other inhibited mud systems. Therefore, even though the mechanism of thinner action is a subject of applied colloid ,chemistry, the understanding of this mechanism is of economy importance in controlling the flow properties of inhibited muds. In phosphate, or sodium tannate, conditioned muds that are relative! y free of contaminating- electrolytes, the thinner, or dispersing agent, is adsorbed, creating an electrical double layer about the clay particles. The mutual repulsion of these charged particles effects colloidal stabilization, or deflocculation of the suspended clays, as discussed by Norton and others. In inhibited muds, however, the electrolyte concentration in the filtrate is sufficient to collapse the double layer and flocculation of the mud solids occurs, as evidenced by increased viscosity and gel values. Chemicals to control the flow properties of inhibited muds, therefore, are vital to the successful use of these systems as it is not always economical to adjust flow properties by watering back. Flocculation of suspended particles, as indicated in the work of Vervey, Overbeek, and others, is due primarily to gravity-like, long-range Van der Waals forces. Prevention of flocculation may, therefore, be secured by the interposition of any barrier between the particles, the thickness of which approximates the extension of the Van der Waals attraction. Organic polyelectrolytes, such as Kembreak, Rayflo, and Q-Broxin, may act to increase the double layer charge when used in small amounts in fresh-water muds. More important, however, is the fact that in inhibited muds an increase in concentration of the polyelecho!yte permits the formation of a condensed film adsorption layer of the polyelectrolyte about the clay particle. When this occurs, the extremely viscous condensed adsorption layer creates a mechanica! barrier that prevents flocculation of clays, even in the presence of inhibiting concentrations of elecholytes. Rheological evaluation of the degree of deflocculation, or colloidal stability, may be made by utilizing the known effects of particle interaction and volume concentration on the flow properties of suspensions. Rheological evaluation should be supplemented by direct microscopie or ultra-microscopie observation
Keywords: Adsorption, adsorption, bentonite, calcium, flocculation, viscosity, Bentonite, Clay, Clays, Concentration, Flocculation, particles, Stabilization, Suspended, viscosity