Discrete Element Modelling of Rock Drilling

Conference paper presented in European Geothermal Congress 2022 held in Berlin, 17-21 October

Title: Discrete Element Modelling of Rock Drilling

Language: English

Authors: Albin Wessling (*1), Jörgen Kajberg (*1), Simon Larsson (*1), Giselle Ramírez Sandoval (*2), Montserrat Vilaseca Llosada (*2)

*1: Division of Solid Mechanics, Luleå Univeristy of Technology
*2: Unit of Metallic and Ceramic Materials, Eurecat, Centre Tecnològic de Catalunya

Abstract: Percussive rotary drilling is recognized as the most efficient method for hard rock drilling. Despite clear advantages over conventional rotary methods, there are still some uncertainties associated with percussive drilling. For geothermal applications, drilling accounts for a large portion of the total cost. Specifically, the wear of drill bits when drilling in hard rock is a predominant cost factor and drilling parameters are often based on the experience of the field operator. Within the framework of the H2020 project GEOFIT, numerical simulations of percussive drilling are performed in order to evaluate the rock drilling process and gain insight about the trade-off between wear and Rate of Penetration (ROP). In the simulations, the rock material was represented by the Bonded Discrete Element Method (BDEM), the drill bit by the Finite Element Method (FEM), the drilling fluid by the Particle Finite Element Method (PFEM) and the abrasive wear on the surface of the drill bit was represented by Archard’s wear law. The drilling simulations were conducted for two rock materials; a sedimentary rock material corresponding to what was found when drilling at the GEOFIT pilot site in Aran Islands, Ireland, and a harder reference rock similar to granite. The results show that, at a drill bit impact force of 10 kN, the ROP in the sedimentary rock was 6.3 times faster than for granite. When increasing the impact force to 40 and 50 kN, however, the ROP for the sedimentary rock is only 1.9 and 1.6 times faster, respectively. Furthermore, the wear rate decreased with increased impact force when drilling in the granite rock. For the sedimentary rock, however, the loading resulting in the best trade-off between abrasive wear and ROP was the second highest loading of 40 kN, which suggests that an increase in impact energy may increase the rate of penetration but may not be economically motivated.