FC-1214-EnergyRecovery Energy Recovery Inc.
The core of the VorTeq hydraulic pumping system is Energy Recovery’s Pressure Exchanger (PX) technology (pictured here), which is already in use in more than 15,000 desalination installations worldwide.(Photo credit: Energy Recovery inc.)

Energy Recovery Inc., a provider of pressure energy technology for industrial fluid flows, has launched a new pump protection system designed to protect hydraulic fracturing (fracking) pumps from frac fluid, resulting in significant time and cost savings.

High-pressure pumps used in hydraulic fracturing processes face constant failure caused by exposure to abrasive frac fluid (containing sand and ceramic proppants). Using its Pressure Exchanger (PX) technology, Energy Recovery says it has engineered the first product of its kind that will entirely protect the frac pumps from frac fluid, preventing damage and reducing the costs and time associated with maintenance.

The technology, called VorTeq, is designed to replace the traditional hydraulic fracturing manifold trailer, or “missile,” more than doubling the useful life of pump components that most frequently fail, according to Energy Recovery. VorTeq re-routes proppant-filled fluid away from high-pressure pumps on fracking sites so these pumps only process fresh water, and therefore last significantly longer. VorTeq channels the abrasive fluids and sends them down the wellbore.

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The core of the VorTeq hydraulic pumping system is Energy Recovery’s Pressure Exchanger (PX) technology, which is already in use in more than 15,000 desalination installations worldwide. The system handles up to 110 barrels per minute, with a treating pressure up to 15,000 PSI. The system is designed with only one moving part and is made from tungsten carbide, which is 1,000 times more abrasion-resistant than steel.

Neal Hageman, engineering manager at Integrated Petroleum Technologies, worked with Energy Recovery to provide insight on the maintenance challenges faced by the service companies performing hydraulic fracturing treatments. “The maintenance challenges associated with pumping large volumes of proppant at high pressures and rates are an accepted part of day-to-day operations,” said Hageman. “Incorporating the VorTeq system could represent a paradigm shift in how the service company industry approaches preventative maintenance, because hydraulic horsepower pumps will no longer be exposed to the abrasive slurry mixture of proppant and water, the source of most maintenance issues. Eliminating these issues will reduce backup requirements and improve overall operational efficiency.”

According to PacWest Consulting Partners, the global hydraulic fracturing services market is estimated to be roughly $50 billion in 2014 with double-digit growth rates expected for the foreseeable future.