Below is a slideshow with some of the videos and still shots we have seen surfacing online, followed by the full scoop on this innovation after a chat we had with PropX management last week.
This is a major overhaul / innovative shift in PropX technology, and it is one of the biggest innovations we’ve seen in the brief history of wet sand management at the wellsite.
We Caught Up With Management To Learn More About Their New “Sand Scorpion” System For Wet Sand Wellsite Storage
Last week, we chatted with PropX CEO Kevin Fisher to learn more about this new system they are calling Sand Scorpion.
This is Gen 2.0 of their wet sand solution, and the first Sand Scorpion has been working on and off for several months as PropX refined its features. And it looks entirely different than Gen 1.0.
A second Sand Scorpion unit recently deployed into the Permian for a Midland Basin operator using damp sand (hence the photo collection above, which was posted without authorization by field hands).
As most readers know, PropX’s Gen 1.0 wet sand system works much like their original dry sand system (with some tweaks to offload damp sand), and it has been deployed since 2018. PropX Gen 1.0 wet sand equipment is supporting a dozen active frac fleets today and remains the only wet sand solution commercialized at scale so far (there are a couple others with a unit or two running and one or two in the works as well).
Wet Sand Wellsite Management Generation 2.0 – Sand Scorpion System Details
Here are some of the key points PropX management shared with Infill Thinking about their innovations and how the new Sand Scorpion will work:
- six full PropX boxes sit on stands on either side of the conveyor / hopper (three on each side) and gripped by a grappler
- the hopper is high capacity – 50 ft long, 8 ft wide and 10 ft. tall – sporting a huge trough that’s open on top
- the boxes utilized can be the first generation PropX boxes (the beige ones you see in the field today) with a lid modification or new boxes that are being built only for dumping sand out the top (the green ones in the slideshow above)
- the operator hits a button to raise the boxes with the upper edge positioned above the conveyor
- this raising motion is done to ready or stage the full boxes when they are placed on the stand so the operator can begin loading the blender within seconds
- to drop sand, the operator tips the raised boxes so that the hinge top of the box opens thanks to the pressure of the sand pushing against it (no manual gate opening)
- the tilting action gets the sand flowing out and onto the belt
- the system operates similar to a garbage truck which grabs a bin and raises it up to dump it in the trailer
- the boxes tip well past horizontal to empty completely – when the box hits it the end of the range of motion, it “thumps” slightly and that knocks any clumps out of the corners to help it fully empty (again imagine a garbage truck lifting your trash bin and shaking it a bit to ensure it empties)
- the height of sand on the belt will control and stop the flow of sand out of the boxes (there’s no danger of overfilling so they don’t meter through the hinge)
- this flow control function is not dissimilar from their standard PropBeast belt operations except that metering now takes place from discharge chute directly into the blender tub
- the operator alternates the sides that are dropping onto the belt
- while three boxes are dropping, three on the other side can be replaced by the forklift operator
- PropX has 2 patents issued on the system with more pending and also leans on the IP protection around the metering gate from the gen 1 system (new patents cover all the features from lifting, grappling the boxes, the remote controls, etc.)
- size – open top and huge capacity on the hopper / belt of this system – a typical frac surge hopper with the augers on a standard frac blender has capacity to hold 7-8,000 pounds of sand, but the Sand Scorpion holds almost 100,000 pounds of sand in the hopper and about 150,000 more in the 6 mounted boxes, about half of a typical frac stage
- this gives more reaction time to to the crew on the large scale jobs where it is imperative that the belt operator or conveyor operator doesn’t run that hopper dry
- flexibility – the open top and large capacity belt could also be loaded from conveyors, front end loaders, dump trucks or even slurry lines, making the belt and hopper of this system multi-modal: flexible, adaptable and agnostic to loading equipment (think of roll off dumpsters)
- headcount – eliminates headcount and keeps workers more comfortable with more automation (only requires three staff members to run – one in the dog house lifting and tipping boxes, the forklift operator, and the sand pusher – the gate opener on the boxes is eliminated and both the key crewmen are in climate controlled conditions now)
- wet or dry – main use case here is wet sand, but it could be used for dry as well in a pinch (say the wet plant slows down and you need to augment with dry for a bit) – only problem with dry is more dust from dropping on the belt as that part is not enclosed
- addresses common wet sand problems – solves clumping problems and creates better flow for wet sand through larger opening, helps to address wellsite concerns about frozen wet sand, and solves silica dust problem when running damp sand
The innovations on this new model will be shared more fully and publicly at the Hydraulic Frac show in the Woodlands in February, where the company plans to have a unit physically on display.
Management says they will build about a dozen of these new systems between this year and next. They are also developing their own filter pod to use on wet sand applications in the field.