Trelleborg is helping improve uptime at a major oil sands mine in Alberta, Canada, through the delivery of rubber-lined expansion barrels.
Due to the size of the operation, oil sands slurry and sediments must travel long distances in the mine’s pipeline system. The mine, therefore, chose Trelleborg’s expansion barrels, which enable the thermal expansion and compression of pipelines, to facilitate extended periods of travel in extreme temperatures at the mine.
This removed the mine’s need for frequent maintenance and consequent downtime caused by extensive wear on the barrel, Trelleborg said.
“The expansion barrels, which were tested over a four-year period at the mine, are flexible in all directions, so they can compensate for the thermal expansion and lateral deflection in a pipe system,” the company said. This enabled the pumps, which circulate the slurry throughout the system, to be protected against load forces and allow for a safe expansion and compression.
Richard Hepworth, President of Trelleborg’s marine and infrastructure operation, which delivered the solution, said: “Testing proved that slurry was able to travel for 24,000 hours in the pipe without maintenance, equating to approximately three years, as opposed to around 4,000 hours, which non-expanding barrels often provide.
“With temperatures across certain parts of our mine reaching as low as -46°C, downtime can compromise the safety of our people during maintenance.”
He added: “With our in-house expertise and mining knowledge, we knew we could supply equipment to meet the demands of the mine’s environmental and business challenges, while providing a solution that can compensate for two or three expansion joints and allow for easy mounting and inspecting.”
The configuration of Trelleborg’s barrel, which can successfully operate in temperatures between -46°C and 90°C – and has an expansion/compression range of 910 mm – was successfully patented in Canada in 2012. The barrel also provides an installation hydraulic ram as a feature for simpler maintenance and rotation.