Planning as well as actual execution to minimize waste and discharge to the environment during water well construction is fast becoming the norm in this industry.

Pneumatic Drilling with Compressed Air

The pneumatic drilling technique of using compressed air to circulate cuttings from the hole.

The practice:

  • Does not require a surface area for reserve pools, which is mandatory for water-based mud drilling.
  • The aquifer is not plugged with drilling fluids.
  • This drilling method is among the fastest in the industry, allowing to increase the penetration rate three or four times more, compared to drilling with mud, and thus in less time, fewer emissions, and lower carbon footprint.
  • It is possible to drill to considerable depths in both soft and hard formations.
  • The compressed air used during the drilling process removes cuttings and debris quickly and keeps the hole clean.
  • As clean cuttings come to the surface without being with fluid, it is possible to instantly verify the types of formations or rock that are being drilled and characterize the lithology of the subsoil.
  • When the drill bit reaches the water table or aquifer, the compressed air can lift the water column quickly, facilitating the characterization of surface aquifers.
  • Because there are no liquids involved in the drilling process, the chances of contaminating the water table or aquifer are very low, therefore, damage to water-sensitive areas or surface source contamination due to the minimum hydrostatic pressure on the formations is reduced to the minimum.
  • Compressed air does a couple of things to extend the life of the bit. First, cool the bit by removing the heat. Second, it removes cuttings quickly, which helps prevent early bit wear.

Figure 1 Drilling fluid vs. ROP