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Smart Sand’s efficient expansion

By |  August 17, 2020
Smart Sand McLanahan Corp.

Smart Sand’s new plant includes four Hydrosizers; four hydrocyclones; two dewatering screens; an Ultra Sand Plant; three Ultra Fines Recovery Plants; and two thickeners. Photo: McLanahan Corp.

Smart Sand, located in Tomah, Wisconsin, provides “mine to wellsite” solutions for the unconventional energy exploration industry.  

This service starts with mining and processing frac sand, or proppant, which is a critical component of fracking operations for both natural gas and petroleum.

Smart Sand’s products and services are focused on the delivery and storage of high-quality premium Northern White sand – a type of frac sand known for its purity, sphericity, conductivity and high-crush strength – to the basins, where it is used in oil and natural gas extraction. The company provides proppant in all standard and custom mesh sizes and also manufactures wellsite storage and proppant delivery equipment.

The challenge

The company’s primary facility is situated on 1,250 acres in Oakdale, Wisconsin, and is accessible by two Class 1 rail lines, ensuring efficient delivery of premium Northern White frac sand directly to key producing regions.

In 2014, Smart Sand decided to expand its Oakdale facility to include a new wet processing plant. The company required a high-tonnage plant for hydraulically classifying sand to make +70 mesh (210 µm) and 70 x 140 mesh (210 x 105 µm) products, as well as a 140 x 400 mesh (105 x 37 µm) stockpile to minimize fines in the tailings. Smart Sand was also looking for a way to thicken the effluent to minimize its settling pond requirements.

Smart Sand worked with McLanahan and McLanahan’s Wisconsin representative, MAB Equipment Co., on an initial plant design in 2011. Smart Sand was pleased with both the equipment and McLanahan’s service and support. 

The selection of McLanahan over others was driven by Smart Sand’s engineering and design process. This led Smart Sand to partner with McLanahan and MAB Equipment to manufacture its new plant.

The solution

For Smart Sand’s new plant, McLanahan provided four Hydrosizers; four hydrocyclones; two dewatering screens; an Ultra Sand Plant consisting of two separators and two dewatering screens; three Ultra Fines Recovery Plants, each consisting of eight hydrocyclones and a dewatering screen; and two thickeners. 

McLanahan furnished the entire support structure surrounding the plant, including the walkways, stairways, handrails and kick-plates, and the design of the piping.

The Hydrosizer plant washes, separates and dewaters Smart Sand’s feed material to meet the specifications required of its final products. The feed material is split between the four hydrocyclones, which de-slime the sand particles and control the density of the feed to the Hydrosizers. 

A hydraulically fluidized teeter bed inside each of the Hydrosizers determines the 70 mesh cutpoint, and the +70 mesh product underflow discharges onto the dewatering screens, which produce a drip-free sand ready for transport by conveyor belt.

Overflow from the Hydrosizers reports to the Ultra Sand Plant for separation of the 70 x 140 mesh material, discharging it as a drip-free product. The Ultra Fines Recovery Plant recovers the fine mesh material from the hydrocyclones and discharges it as a drip-free 140 x 400 product.

Photo: McLanahan Corp.

The Ultra Sand Plant consists of two separators and two dewatering screens. Dewatering screens play a role in Smart Sand sizing, washing and separating sand more efficiently. Photo: McLanahan Corp.

From there, the overflows from the Ultra Sand Plant and Ultra Fines Recovery Plants are sent to the thickeners, which recover Smart Sand’s process water for immediate reuse and help Smart Sand make the most of its resources.

The use of McLanahan Hydrosizers and dewatering screens allows Smart Sand to size, wash and separate sand more efficiently while also recycling the water used in the process and maximizing product yield.

The results

Since startup, the Hydrosizer plant has provided Smart Sand with the high-production tonnage it initially sought and allowed the operation to benefit from the simplified maintenance McLanahan incorporates into its equipment designs.

With McLanahan’s equipment, Smart Sand can efficiently wash and separate raw sand with straightforward maintenance and a relatively small footprint.

The Hydrosizer plant also provides Smart Sand with the ability to keep up with market demand by giving it control over product sizes during processing. Smart Sand went from a 70 mesh cut down to a 140 mesh cut to adjust to market demands, and it can go up to a 50 mesh cut without equipment modification.

The equipment allows for mesh size adjustments during processing, allowing Smart Sand to more easily and efficiently meet changing customer needs.

Besides increased flexibility, Smart Sand has also enjoyed the benefits of a strong working relationship with McLanahan and MAB Equipment through the years. Through those established relationships, Smart Sand is able maximize its reliability, maintenance and uptime.

Information for this article courtesy of McLanahan Corp.

Zach Mentz

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