This paper presents a novel approach of continuously measuring drilling fluid rheology and density by use of sound signals. A unique apparatus is built with a series of pipe sections designed to exact pre-calculated dimensions to achieve equivalent standard shear rates as stipulated in the American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice 13D for measuring the rheology of oil-well drilling fluids (from 3 to 600 RPM). Acoustics waves are passed through the fluids of interest and their interaction is recorded and analyzed to deduce the density and rheological properties of the fluids.
The concept of resonance as demonstrated by the Barton's pendulums are the basis of the methodology. Sound signals are known to exhibit a damping effect when passing through various media. Pairs of sensors are employed in this set-up and their signal response are first characterized and calibrated with fluids of known properties. Electric current is converted into acoustic signals by piezoelectric sensors mounted of the flowline which are then emitted through the fluids desired to be measured without interrupting the flow. A matching sensor receives these damped signed and reconverts them back to electromotive potentials for recording by a data acquisition unit. The signals are then analyzed by applying statistical techniques to interpret and obtain the fluids physical properties.
Owing to the nature of the task, the goal of accurately achieving simultaneous measurement of density and viscosity is attained by applying an ensemble machine learning algorithm, known as Multivariate Random Forest. Pure chemicals and fluids of known properties form the training group on which the predictive model is built for subsequent testing on new mud samples flowing through each section. The pipe sections generate shear rates covering the standard range adopted in oilfield reports. Results from each pair of sensors are analyzed and compared with dial readings from rotational viscometers; these have shown to be within a narrow band of error.
As a result of this work, the voltage outputs are sent continuously and in real-time to a processing computer that converts the values to dial readings at standard shear rates, while not disrupting the flow. This can aid in the better monitoring and surveillance of the entire fluid system of the well, which is highly beneficial to well control. The system can also be arranged to acquire gel strengths or how the fluid behaves after a fixed period of rest. Improvements can be made on the current procedures for fluid characterization which have remained relatively static for many years. This work engages the disciplines of rheology, acoustics and machine learning, creating a mechanism for continuous and real-time drilling fluid surveillance critical to the enhancement of safe development of petroleum resources.