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What Makes Sonic Drill Different from Air Mud Rotary Drilling?

When embarking on a brand new project, selecting what type of drilling method to use, whether you should go for sonic drill or air mud rotary drilling, is a decision of an undeniable importance. Choosing the right drilling method to use is critical as it does have a direct impact on the overall outcome of a project. 

There are several things that you will need to factor in when making a decision on this aspect such as what your project goals are, the schedule you mind to be mindful of, and lastly, groundwater and geologic conditions you will be working in. 

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If you are slated to take on drilling boreholes, or you are going to work on a more challenging geologic formation anytime soon, sonic drilling and rotary drilling are likely going to be your top choices. 

Yes, that is going to be a tough call when you don’t know exactly what makes them distinct from each other.  

Sonic Drilling and Rotary Drilling Types: How Do They Work?

In rotary drilling, the borehole is being advanced by virtue of impact energy. This normally originates from below or above impact ground hammer you’re using and melding them all together with the rotation intended to macerate the drill formation. As for the cuttings on the drill formation, you can eliminate them from the borehole using only circulating water or compressed air. 

If the ground working conditions you are dealing are unstable, bentonite, a type of additive, can be mixed into the water. By utilizing air, the cuttings can be blown toward the catchment and funneled to a settling pit using mud or water. After this, the cuttings will be recycled to the borehole again.  

In sonic drilling, the borehole is advanced using resonant frequency vibrations. By this measure, the drill bit formations can be fluidized. Sonic head vibrations at the drill string move quickly up and down, with an intense drill bit vibration. 

Resonant “sonic” frequencies around 50 – 200 Hertz are audible and thus can be managed so you can make them fit the formation type you are dealing with. 

Rotation is optional and may be included when already dealing with harder or more challenging, difficult geologic formations. Sonic drilling is the most ideal drilling method to use when you are working on a drilling project that involves difficult  or very challenging drilling conditions.  

The Advantages And Possible Disadvantages of Sonic Drilling

The advancement of the borehole in sonic drilling is somehow comparable to rotary. The method offers a high level of effectiveness even in the most difficult of drilling conditions like boulders, gravel,  landfill or fill. It also works well in softer formations such as weathered basalt and sandstone limestone. 

When it comes to drilling waste, sonic drilling is likely to produce 10% less to what can be normally expected to be produced by rotary drilling. The vibration that is usually identified with a sonic type of drilling will ease the removal of casing intended for grouting projects.

Also by utilizing air, borehole wall smearing is alleviated to a great extent for environmental and geotechnical sampling. 

The surrounding formation in sonic drilling worksite can be disruptive to surrounding rock or ground formations. It also runs the risk of inducing new fractures to start appearing on a hard, unconsolidated bedrock which may hurt the structural or aquifer testing. 

This is among the reasons why sonic drilling is not very much practical option to use when your drilling projects involve dealing with hard bedrock or shallow borings. 

Sonic drilling, much like any other drilling method there is, generates heat. There are many geologic conditions where this can bring about changes in the moisture conditions or texture of the rock formations. Fortunately, there is a workaround on this side effect, and that can be seen when you make use of drilling liquid.