Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States produce approximately 40 million barrels of oil in a day. That comes out to about 43 percent of the entire world’s oil production. The industry is broken into three categories: upstream (exploration and extraction), midstream (transport and store), and downstream (refine and market). Much of the equipment needed for the exploration, extraction, and refining of oil requires rotation and the ball screw. In this article, we’ll discuss how ball screws are used within the oil and gas industry to improve efficiency.
Equipment Used in the Oilfield Industry
When discussing how ball screws are used within the oil and gas industry, we need to look at what equipment is used within the industry. The main equipment is used for drilling, excavating, and extracting. Let’s look at a list of the most common equipment used for these purposes:
- Drilling rigs: Conventional skid-mounted, top drives, trailer mountain, mobile and truck- mounted, and work-over rigs.
- Other Oilfield Equipment: Masts, substructures, hooks, swivels, hook blocks, rotary tables, top drives, traveling blocks, crown blocks, and draw works.
Oil has been drilled since the 1800s. It’s well tapped out and that means the more accessible oil has diminished. We now have to drill deeper to find what we need. Deeper drilling has its own issues, such as corrosion. As the oil industry digs deeper, it procures H2S (sour crude oil.) Unfortunately, the sour crude oil contains a sulfurous mixture that corrodes the iron in the pipes that extract the oil.
New technology called a cladding machine helps to control corrosion and make extraction safer. The cladding machine does this by using oscillating technology inside of the pipe. Without the ball screw, the oscillating process wouldn’t be possible, as it’s necessary for the conversion of rotary motion to linear motion.
Not only are ball screws superior in lessening corrosion, but they also lessen friction. This is due to their nut and circulating ball bearing design which allows for smooth gliding of the screw. The smooth rotation with no friction brings greater efficiency for the oil and gas industry with less wear and tear and the need for screw replacement.
Compared to the lead screw, the ball screw has an average of 90 percent mechanical efficiency, while the lead screw has only 20-25 percent. This means a ball screw converts 90 percent of an application’s rotational motion into linear motion. In an industry such as the oil industry, that’s quite efficient and clearly the best choice.
As technology advances and the oil industry continues to flourish, the ball screw will continue to be a part of it, making linear control systems more efficient.
Since 1936, Wedin International has been the leader in motion and linear control systems. We understand industries like the oil and gas industry, as well as food processing, aerospace, and many others. We are proud to offer Acme screw products and other machine tool drive components. Contact us and let’s see how Wedin International can help provide your company with your machine tool drive components and linear control systems.