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Патент USA US3049419

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Aug. 14, 1962
E. J. DowER
3,049,409
TESTING FOR GAS IN WELL DRILLING FLUID
Filed July 27. 1959
2 Sheets-Sheet l
E. ¿Á ¿70 wer
INVENTÜR.
Aug. 14, 1962
E. J. DowER
3,049,409
TESTING FOR GAS IN WELL DRILLING FLUID
Filed July 27, 1959
2 Sheets-Sheet 2
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INVENToR.
BY
Afro/emga
Unite States
` " atet
1
3 049 469
TESTING non GAs r’N w’ntt unitrust; ruim
Eth'eil J. Dower, Houston, Tex., assigner to Warren Auto
matic Tool Company, Houston, Tex., a corporation of
exas
Filed July 27, 1959, Ser. No. 829,763
9 Claims. (Cl. 23--230)
This invention relates to testing hydrocarbons contained
E icc
3,049,409
Patented Aug. 14, 1962
2
co-operative assembly of several elements, most of which
are gener-ally conventional in character. Thus, la suit
able motor driven pump 1 has its suction side or inlet
connected by a pipe 2 with a mixing chamber 3 |and has
its pressure delivery or outlet side joined to a branch line
4 containing a control valve 5 and to a branch conduit 6
having Ia pressure regulator 7 therein whereby fluid is
delivered to the rest of the system at a substantially con
in returning well drilling mud as an indication of
stant and reduced pressure. Gas between the pressure
regulator 7 and the outlet of the pump 1 can be exhausted
whether earth formations being traversed have significant
hydrocarbon content. More specifically, the invention
other equipment, as, for example, with the `system shown
deals with the use of a column of Áair as a carrier for
in FIG. 3, as will later be referred to.
or diverted either into the atmosphere or for use with
hydrocarbon gases to be tested and mixed with hydrogen
The How path Ibeyond the pressure regulator 7 divides
gas and then flared at a burner jet across an otherwise
open gap in an electric circuit for completing `a current
into two branches S and 9 and the branch 8 contains a
filter 1t) to remove foreign particles and impurities -from
flow path by llame ionization of the «organic components
the air stream flowing through the branch and which lair
is delivered to the burner cell 11 for purging purposes.
The burner cell 11 comprises a cup shaped body of nylon,
within the gap and the measurement of electric conduc
tivity for determination of the characteristics of the hy
drocarbon gas content.
When hydrocarbons are returned with drilling mud, an
immediate indication of the fact is desirable, as is also
a continuing record throughout the drilling operation of
whether and how much hydrocarbons »are being returned
together with an occasional test ‘of samples from produc
tive Zones for determination and recordation of the con
ceramic or other suitable electric nonconductive and tire
resistant material and protectively encloses the *llame pro
vided by burning fuel delivered through a small jet nozzle
l2 forming an upper extension of the vertical leg 13
of a hollow T-coupling whose internal `space provides a
mixing chamber for gases delivered to the interior thereof
through the side legs 14 and 15 of the T-coupling.
stituency and proportionality of different components. For
such purpose, it is here proposed to employ a flowing
column Iof carrier air for entraining hydrocarbons re
supply of hydrogen gas. Bottled hydrogen gas delivered
moved from returning mud and to mix the carrier air land ‘
at a controlled rate can be used but more conveniently
any entrainments with a combustible inorganic gas for
yhydrogen gas can be generated at an electrolytic cell
flame ionization. inasmuch as electrical conductivity of
a flame burning organic substances varies according to
whose electrodes `are contained in a switch controlled
electric circuit 17. Any power source, inclusive of a
Flame supporting fuel delivered through the leg 14
according to the present invention consists of a 'const-ant
organic substance content of the mixture, a measurement
storage battery unit, supplies current, and an ammeter in
of conductivity affords convenient indication of the char
the circuit provides a reading of the generation rate as
acteristics of the mixture.
controlled, if desired, by an adjustable rheostat. Hy
An object of the invention is to provide simple and re
drogen generated at a constant rate is collected «at the
liable mud logging instrumentation to be located at the
top of the cell and `directed through a conduit 18 and a
drilling site and to use air for the surrounding atmosphere
dryer 19 to a conduit 20 coupled to the burner jet branch
as the carrier `for samples of hydrocarbon substances with 40 leg 14. The other branch leg 15 of the jet burner is
drawn from returning mud and delivered lfor mixture with
connected throu-gh a filter 21 and preferably a ilow meter
flame maintaining hydrogen intern-ally »at a burner jet in
22 and a control valve 23 with the air column delivery
advance of the iiame area and whose 'filame is projected
conduit 9. Each of the iilters 10 and 21 consists of `suit
across and closes a gap between spaced apart conductors
able lengths of conduit packed with material, such as
in an electric circuit containing Ian indicator of llame
ybrick dust, to filter out dust particles but not the light
conductivity.
hydrocarbon gases before the pressure air reaches the
A further object of the invention is to provide instru
burner cell 11.
mentation as aforesaid wherein the indicator circuit con
Entry of air into the system at the pump inlet is
tains a series of resistors and wherein voltage ydrop across
through either one of a pair of intakev conduits 24 and
various amounts selectively of the total resistance, changes
25 controlled `by a multiple-way valve 27 leading to the
the meter scale to suit volume variations of hydrocarbon
content of the carrier air.
Another object of the invention is to provide for meas
urement of flame conductivity in one embodiment as a
mixing chamber 3. Between the multiple-way -valve 427
and the intake 25 is `a trap 26 arranged for the flow
therethrough of drilling mud returning from the well and
wherein any well gases can separate from the mud stream
highly sensitive detector of air carried hydrocarbon vol
and lbe entrained in the air stream flowing through the
ume and in another embodiment `for gas chromatography
trap when the valve 27 is properly set for the intake
and in which a small sample of hydrocarbon gas before
by pump suction of air through the inlet 25. -For com
being mixed with hydrogen is passed with the carrier air
parison of instrument recordings and to enable _com
through a separator from which the different components
pensation for the presence at a well drilling site, of hy
emerge in spaced time and discrete group relations for 60 drocarbon gas in the free atmosphere adjoining the intake
successive burnings to thereby show relative proportion
25, the Avalve 27 can be set temporarily for induction of
of and the different components which make up the hy
free air through the trap by-passing intake 24 lat a point
drocarbon sample.
immediately adjoining the trap intake 25. In either event,
Other objects and advantages of the invention will be
the column of air with or without hydrocarbon gases en
65
come apparent during the course of the following speci
trained therewith will be moved by the pump at a given
ñcation having reference to the accompanying drawings
pressure level as controlled by the regulator 7 to the
wherein FIG. 1 is a `diagram showing indicator circuitry
burner jet and immediately in advance of the jet noèzle
according to the invention and FIGS. 2 and 3 are sche
will be mixed with the constant supply of hydrogen for
matic views respectively illustrating a gas detector system
flaring in the cell 11 for a continuous flame. Electrical
and fa chromatographic system usable singly or in com 70 conductivity through the flame will vary according Íto the
bination one with another.
content of organic gas within the carrier air and measure
The gas detector arrangement of FIG. 2 consists of a
ment of current will give a reflection of the absence or
3,049,409
3
¿l
presence of hydrocarbon gas and the relative amount of
millivolt, which is only one-tenth of the full scale of the
usual recorder, or, in other Words, ten minor divisions
hydrocarbon gas.
The current ñow measuring circuitry as diagramed in
of a zero-to-one-hundred chart. Accordingly, each chart
division on the most sensitive scale is equal to one part
mounting a conductor terminal or pole 28 on the wall Ul per million of gas in the air.
To enable field use of more sensitive scales, a bias volt
of the cell 11 to end in spaced apart relation with the
age supply has been added to the attenuator circuit. Thus
tip of the burner jet 12. The burner jet constitutes a
in FIG. 1 there is shown connected at opposite ends of
cao-operating conductor and is connected by a wire line
FIG. 1 involves a gap or break in the circuit provided by
29 to one end of a series of resistors 43 and to a terminal
the resistance element 43 an electric circuit including a
of a current ilow or balanced input recorder 30.
1.35-volt battery 44- whose positive side contains a vari
able resistance 45 to provide a total of ten megohms re
sistance and whose negative side includes a balancing re
sistance 46 with a central take-off line through a resist
`ance element 47 whose resistance value may vary between
one hundred and two hundred megohms, depending on
the amount of zero control needed. The addition of the
biasing supply allows the recorder to `be zeroed even
though a continuous background level of several hundred
The
other terminal of the recording indicator 30 is joined by
a conductor wire 31 to -a selector switch 34 associated
with the resistors 43 and one side of a battery 32 as
a source of current and a conductor wire 33 connects the
other side of the battery with the cell conductor 28 for
completing the circuit except for the open gap between
the ends of the conductors 28 and 12 and which gap is
to be bridged by the burning llame.
Variations in amounts of organic content of burning
gases varies conductivity in the electric circuit and read
ings at the indicator 30 can be translated into hydrocar
bon content volume. Zero readings will obtain with a
burning flame supported by an inorganic gas along with
parts per million exists. The adjustable bias voltage is
opposite in polarity to the signal voltage and acts across
the whole attenuator resistance. It follows that if a back
ground level is balanced out on the times-one range, the
attenuator can be shifted to any other range and the
recorder remains at zero. Should the recorder read sixty
carrier air which is free of hydrocarbon gas but any addi
tion of hydrocarbon gas will be sensed or detected with the 25 chart divisions on a times-one chart, the attenuator can
be moved to the times-three range to move the recorder
system of FIG. 1, since circuit conductivity will increase
to the correct value of twenty chart divisions. Such zero
in relation to volume increase of hydrocarbon particles
control affords accurate recording of small variations in
burned in the tlame. For varying indicator scale or the
concentration on the order of twenty to thirty parts per
meaning of its graduations and the response range of its
co-operating pointer or marker to suit small concentra 30 million change when normal level of concentration may
be two hundred parts per million.
tions as well -as larger volumes of hydrocarbon gases,
To check and correct for the effect of gas-laden air
there is contemplated a manual setting of the selector
at the point of intake 25 into the system, the valve 27
switch blade 34 for co-operation with any of the several
should be shifted for the intake of air in by-passing re
contacts 3S, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, joined to ditîerent
lation with the trap 26 for enabling the elîect of hydro
parts of the resistance 43, whereby voltage drop can be
carbon gas in the atmosphere to be zeroed out on the
measured across the whole or any selected amount of
recorder and to give a true measurement of gas picked
resistance in relation to the hydrocarbon gas volume
up from the mud by carrier air from surrounding atrnos
being burned at any time. At the start of a drilling op
phere in normal operation.
eration and until a gas showing is obtained, the switch
In the arrangement of FIG. 3, the pump 101 or any
blade preferably is set at contact 35 and the marker will 40
other -suitable source of compressed air leads through a
have an extended range `of movement whenever any small
pressure regulator 107 to the two branches 108 and 109.
amount of gas becomes entrained in the carrier air. When
The branch 108 supplies purge air to the cell 111 and
and if hydrocarbon volume increases in the carrier air,
preferably includes a -fìlter 110. The air column line
the distances of indicator marker »travel to indicate a
109 leads through a multiple-way valve 48 which in the
given -amount of hydrocarbon content can be stepped
full line position of the valve parts illustrated directs the
down, in suitable relation to reduction in current ñow
carrier air stream through a line 49, a sampling chamber
resistivity in the llame, by shifting the selector switch to
50 and a chromatograph column 51 to one branch of the
the other contacts 3641 in progression.
jet burner. The other branch of the jet burner receives
By way of example, the attenuation steps attainable
|hydrogen gas `from an electrolytic cell 116 after passage
with the selector switch are on the order of one, three,
through a dryer 119 for a continuous burning within
ten, thirty, one hundred, three hundred and one thousand
the cell 111 and co-operation with the electric circuit, as
for a particular installation in which a three hundred volt
previously discussed in connection with FIG. l. A sam
direct current source of current or battery was employed
ple of gas can be injected for carriage by the air stream
and the total resistance across the element 43 was on the
to the burner jet in either of two ways. For a compara
order of three megohms. The conductor pole 28 was a
tive or calibration test, a known sample of measured
platinum wire in line with the bore of the jet nozzle 12,
quantity contained -in a hypodermic needle can be in
resembling a twenty gauge hypodermic needle, yand was
jected manually at the box 50 after the needle punctures
mounted to provide a gap of three-sixteenths of an inch.
a rubber diaphragm constituting one of the walls of the
Regulated pressure of the air column ahead of llow re
box 50. A practical installation contemplates the use in
sistance from a six-inch long ñlter 21 was maintained at
tandem of the detector system in FIG. 2 with the chro
approximately two pounds per square inch for a small
matograph system of FIG. 3, which is to say that the
tñow rate, on the order of one-tenth to two-tenths cubic
by-pass 4 immediately beyond the pump 1 is joined by a
foot per hour. -All hydrogen generated was conducted to
pipe connection with a conduit 52 leading to the control
the cell and at a constant small rate at less than one
valve 48. By such connection, the conduit 52 is coupled
pound per square inch and maintained combustion when
with and is a continuation of the branch conduit 4 with
mixed with the air.
out altering the operations of either the detector system
The resulting sensitivity was quite high. In the ab
or the chromatograph system. The detector system will
sence of carbon particles, llame resistance was so high
that practically there was no current ñow. Plame resist
continue to function as previously described whatever
ance decreased and more current llowed in the measur 70 may be the position of the control valve 48, as will now
ing circuit as carbon content was added and ionized by
be referred to.
llame heat. It was found that 0.01 percent hydrocarbon
gas in the carrier air produced a voltage across the
three megohms of tenmilliovolts. A mixture of 0.001
percent hydrocarbon gas in the carrier air produced one 75
rotor having three separate passages 53, 54 and 55 therein
and being shiftable periodically between two different
positions, one indicated by full lines and the other by
dotted lines. In the full line position, pressure air moves
This control valve 48 is illustrated as a
aafla/ics
5
6
from conduit 109 to conduit 49 through lthe valve pas
sage 53, while valve passage 54 communicates the branch
conduit 4 and its continuation supply pipe 52 through
and joined to one of said passages for the withdrawal
from the -trap of air and gas entrained therewith, the
other of «said passages extending to and having an atmos
a pipe loop 56 of predetermined volume and valve pas
.phere air entry opening adjacent the entry opening -of
sage 55 to an exhaust conduit 57. Tthe carrier air and its Ul said trap, said valve means being operable to open and
hydrocarbon content entrained at the chamber Z6 now
close the respective passages selectively.
passes through the loop 56 to atmosphere but at any
2. In a system of the character described, an electric
instant the content of the loop is available a-s a sample
circuit having a gap therein, means to measure current in
amount for performance thereon of a chromatograph test.
the circuit, a jet burner to project a iiame across said
The pipe loop 56 can be of any desi-red length and volume 10 gap, Ia ilame protective box yaround the jet burner, a
combustible gas passage leading -to the yburner and having
so that when the rotary valve 4S is shifted clockwise in
FIG. 3, to its second position the passage 5S will directly
branch inlets thereto, a source of hydrogen connected to
connect the inlet 52 with the exhaust S7 -while the valve
one of said inlets and supplying hydrogen fuel to the
passage 53 joins the air supply conduit 109 with one end
burner, a conduit connected to the other of said inlets
of the sample containing loop conduit 56 and the valve
for supplying air as a carrier `for any such organic gas
passageway 54 connects the opposite end of the conduit
as may be entrained within the carrier lair, a gas trap hav
56 with the pipe 49 leading to the jet burner.
ing an outside air inlet, a pressure pump having an out
Whatever -the ‘gas content of the sample air previously
let connection with said conduit «and an inlet connection
with ythe interior of said trap to withdraw air and trapped
supplied `from Ithe trap` 26 by the pump 1 and through the
line 4 of FIG. 2 and into the sample loop conduit 56», 20 gas therefrom, means operable to close said inlet con
such air and its content will constitute a given volume
sample of gas to be analyzed and blown or pushed as a
slug from the loop by the pressure column from conduit
109 toward the llame cell. In the flow of this sample
slug through the chromatograph column 51, its compo
nents of hydrocargon gas will «be separated one `from
another and move Ito the Iburner in time succession and
in .discrete groups so that, for example, the first or light
est component will leave the column 51 more or less as
nection and open the pump inlet directly to outside air
and a branch line passage leading from said conduit
downstream from »the pump and to the interior of said
flame protective lbox in by-pass relation to the burner.
3. In a detector system of the character described, an
electric circuit containing a current diow indicator and
spaced apart conductors providing a gap therebetween,
a lburner jet to project a gap bridging ‘ñame »across the
space between said conductors, means to supply llame
a batch, followed by succeeding distinct batches or" other 30 supporting hydrogen to said burner jet, a hydrocarbon
progressively heavier hydrocarbon components in the
trap for connection in a well drilling mud line, means
connecting the interior of the trap to atmosphere Ifor 4a-i-r
order of methane, ethane, propane, isobut-ane, -butane,
isopentane, pentane, etc. Thus successive burnings of
entrance to the trap, a pump having its inlet connected
the intermittently eluted and individual hydrocarbon gases
with »the interior of said ‘trap 'and operable to continuously
will be analyzed and recorded each in order of constitu 35 withdraw fair and hydrocarbons entrained therewith from
ency and in »terms of relative proportionality according
the trap and means `delivering pump exhaust to said burner
to measured chan-ges yand durations in iiame conductivity.
for combination with the hydrogen supply.
The chromatographic column 51 can be in the nature
4. In a system for analyzing hydrocarbon content of
0f a long tube, such as twenty-two reet in length, packed
returned well drilling mud, a mud return conduit including
with an adsorption type of material, of which an exam
ple is dimenthal-sulfolane on brick dust. For such col
a hydrocarbon gas separation chamber, means connected
with said chamber for flowing -air Ithrough the cham-ber
umn, the regulator~ 107 -should be set vfor carrier air pres
as a carri-er to entrain gas, a pair of branch delivery lines
sure of about twenty-two pounds to afford a flow rate
receiving the carrier air and forming part of said means,
of one-tenth to two-tenths cubic foot per hour.
a burner jet having a mixing pass-age Iand a pair of branch
As Ia safety factor, -a simple thermistor bridge at the 45 passages leading thereto and one of which branch pas
-iiame cell and a panel meter can be added to indicate
sages is connected with one of »said branch delivery lines,
cell temperature and whether the flame is burning and
a supply of hydrogen gas connected with the mixing pas
means provided to stop hydrogen generation and escape
sage by the other branch passage leading thereto, an
should the ñarne be extinguished. Also, a small ñange 58
electric circuit having a pair of spaced apart conductors
just below the jet tip serves to dissipate heat and prevent 50 Whose intervening spac-e is bridged fby the Iburner flame
combustion inside the jet passage,
for current ñow which is variable according to the ratio
As Abefore indicated, the detector system for continu
of the hydrocarbon gas to the carrier air, means to in
ous automatic logging purposes and the chromatograph
dicate current flow changes as Ia detector of the presence
system for selective use in analyzing detected returns at
of hydrocarbon gas in the air, a second electric circuit
will are usable separately of one another but preferably 55 having a current lflow indicator and a gap in lthe circuit,
are intended for conjoint installation during the well drill
a jet burner for projecting a flame across said gap, two
ing operation for recording a complete history of pene
pipe lines leading to the last mentioned jet burner, means
trated productive zones and their compositions.
to supply hydrogen gas through one of said pipe lines,
What is claimed is:
sampling means connecting the Iother pipe line with the
l. In a system for determining the characteristics of 60 other of the aforesaid branch delivery lines and operable
hydrocarbon gases by burning samples of the same in a
for supplying a given volume of carrier air and entrained
ilarne whose electric conductivity varies with differences
hydrocarbon gas from said chamber to the jet burner
in gas constituency, an electric circuit having a gap there
and separator means in said other pipe line active to re
in, means to measure current in the circuit, a gas burner
tard flow at differential rates of the different components
projecting a flame across said gap, means to supply a 65 of the air entrained ‘hydrocarbon gas sample for the se
continuous ñow of hydrogen to said ‘burner .for main
quential burning of said components and a result-ant varia
tenance of the ñame and other means lto supply to said
tion of current ñow in said second electric circuit for
burner a stream of air under pressure and comprising
chromatograph purposes.
5. `A method for testing gas in oil well drilling mud
a conduit leading to said burner, an air delivery pump
connected with the conduit and provided with an air 70 including separating organic gas from drilling mud and
intake connection, branch induction, passages coupled
utilizing a stream of pressure air as a carrier of the sepa
with said air intake connection, valve means controlling
communication between the air intake connection and
rated organic gas, mixing the steam with hydrogen fuel
adjacent a yjet burner, -burning the mixture at the jet
said passages, a gas trap for connection in a well mud
burner, passing electric current across a circuit gap- bridged
line and provided with an atmosphere air entry opening 75 by the burning flame and measuring current variation in
3,040,409
4
8
the circuit as indicative of characteristics of the organic
gas entrained with the carrier air.
6. The method of analyzing hydrocarbon content in
well drilling fluid return including passing a column of
carrier air through a portion of the drilling ñuid return
path for entrainment by the carrier air of hydrocarbons
with well drilling mud including separating from the mud
separated from the drilling ñuid, mixing the carrier air
delivery across a gap between spaced -`terminals of con
and entraining separated hydrocarbons in a pressure air
carrier stream, delivering the carrier stream and entrained
hydrocarbons to a burner jet, constantly supplying the
burner jet with hydrogen fuel to maintain a flame in which
the carrier air entrained hydrocarbons are ñared upon
ductors in an electric circuit for the flow of current through
and any hydrocarbon entraiument therein with an in
the flame Whose conductivity varies in accord with or
organic ?uel and then burning the mixture and measuring
electric conductivity of the burning mixture.
10 ganic content at any instant and measuring current con
ductivity of the ilame.
7. The method of analyzing hydrocarbons including
mixing an air carrier column with hydrogen fuel and
References Cited in the file of this patent
ñaming the mixture between spaced apart conductors in
UNITED STATES PATENTS
a current ñow measuring circuit and introducing into the
carrier air column and in upstream relation to its point 15 2,511,177
Richardson __________ __ June 13, 1950
of mixture with the hydrogen fuel the hydrocarbons to
2,663,379
Doan ______________ __ Dec. 22, 1953
be analyzed and Whose burning in the ñame provides a
2,694,923
Carpenter ___________ .__ Nov. 23, 1954
current flow path joining said conductors.
OTHER REFERENCES
8. The method of claim 7 together with the additional
step of passing the carrier air through a chromatograph
Ray: “Nature,” 180, 40B-405 (1957).
Henderson et al.: “.T. Chem. Soc.,” pages 2299-2302,
column of adsorption material to separate said hydro
1956.
carbons according to their relative ñow rates through said
Harley: “Nature,” 181, 177, 178 (1958).
material.
Scott: “Manufacturing Chemist,” 29, 411-416 (1958).
9. The method of analyzing hydrocarbons returned
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