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Patent: To Clean Out a Water Well.
Patent: To Clean Out a Water Well.  | amar_txbz, lub_txbz, water well, Dan Nelson, Robert Nelson, Dimmitt, Castro County, 8205676, cleaning apparatus, Ogallala aquifer,

Dan Nelson and Robert Nelson, both of Dimmitt, Texas, recently received U.S. Patent 8,205,676 for “Water Well Cleaning Apparatus and Method.”

Texas Business Patent of the Day:  When you drink from a water well, you sometimes forget that well is dug into dirt and earth and rubble and other stuff.  And then sometimes, things get into the well because, well, it’s a well.  That is the problem that two Castro County men are trying to solve.

Dan Nelson and Robert Nelson, both of Dimmitt, Texas, recently received U.S. Patent 8,205,676 for “Water Well Cleaning Apparatus and Method.”

The two applied for the patent on July 22, 2010.

The Nelson’s invention relates to the field of water well refurbishing, and more specifically to cleaning devices and techniques for use in cleaning the slots, perforations or other openings present in water well casings or screens, according to the patent documents.
In most rural environments, water wells are a given necessity. Water wells and their associated down hole pumps are the modern day equivalent of windmills, which were historically used to move water from one location or one depth to another. In addition to providing water for such everyday activities as showering, doing laundry and running the dishwasher, water wells are also used at the present time for such diverse purposes as irrigating crops, providing livestock with water, supplying water to remote locations, or for acting as heating and cooling mechanisms for geothermal systems.

The completed water well may utilize any of several commercially available pumps to bring the water to the well surface. For example, three of the commonly used well pumps at the present time are the electric submersible pump, the reciprocating plunger well pump, and the line-shaft turbine pump. 

In the present day water well producing arts, it is customary to complete the well by inserting a metallic well liner, sometimes referred to as a "casing", adjacent the water-producing formation. Water wells throughout the Ogallala aquifer and many other aquifers are cased with steel pipe, typically pipe which is from twelve to sixteen inches in diameter. This pipe is normally perforated by torch cutting or is provided with manufactured slots. Another frequently encountered water well installation uses a screen type pipe, commonly known as "ag screen" or "Johnson well screen." The purpose of the slots, perforations or screens is to allow the water from the surrounding water bearing formation to infiltrate the casing, while holding back sand or other particulates, so that the downhole pump in the well can transport the water from the water bearing strata to the surface for distribution in irrigation, industrial or consumptive use. 

The openings in the well casing thus provide passage-ways for the flow of water and other formation fluids from the formation into the well for removal to the surface. However, over time, the openings will often become plugged with foreign material, such as sand, the products of corrosion, sediment deposits and other inorganic or organic complexes. Over time, these various foreign materials begin to cake up and clog the holes or perforations in the casing or screen. Also, over time, depending upon conditions, lime contained in the water will accumulate around the screen and will also plug up the openings. As the sand, limestone and other materials build or cake up, they close off portions of the perforated casing or screen. This naturally reduces pumping efficiency, reduces intake of water, increases the pumping head, and increases the pumping cost. 

Obviously, the smaller the perforations or screen, the more likely the plugging will be and the more quickly the plugging will take place. Mill slot casing and ag screen casing have the smallest openings and are the most likely to plug. Similarly, the smaller torch cut perforations are highly likely to plug, as well. Torch cut perforations range from about 1/8 inch to about 1/2 inch, depending on the formation in which the well may be drilled. Smaller perforations are typically used to limit sand inflow to the pump. 

Since removal and replacement of the well casing is costly, various methods have been developed to clean plugged openings though various remedial operations, including chemical treatments, mechanical techniques (e.g., brushing and bailing), the use of a high pressure air gun to create a hydraulic wave, the use of jetted streams of liquid, re-perforating the casing, etc. In fact, it is often necessary to perform some type of cleaning operation every 2 or 3 years in large municipal or industrial water wells. 

The use of fluid jet techniques was first introduced in about 1938 to directionally deliver acid to dissolve carbonate deposits. In about 1958 the development of tungsten carbide jets permitted including abrasive material in a liquid which improved the ability of a fluid jet to do useful work. However, the inclusion of abrasive material in a jet stream was found to be an ineffective perforation cleaning method in that it enlarged the perforation which hampered or destroyed the perforation sand screening capabilities. Other liner and casing cleaning technologies have been described in the prior art in relation to cleaning the liners or casings of oil and gas hydrocarbon producing wells. While there are some similarities to the cleaning of water wells, the oil and gas well rehabilitation equipment tends to be more complicated and expensive with the tools often being run on metal tubing or drill string or off reels of metallic coiled tubing and the like. 

With respect to the other prior art processes which have been employed for water wells, none have proved to be entirely satisfactory. Often the surface of the well casing is cleaned relatively well, but the perforations are almost never cleaned out entirely satisfactorily. 

The Nelsons saw a need for an improved water well cleaning apparatus and method.

The present invention is a system for cleaning the water well casing of a water well of the traditional type having a well bore and a metal casing installed within the well bore. The casing would have internal sidewalls of a given internal diameter and have at least a length thereof which is perforated to allow the flow of water from a surrounding subterranean formation. This is the traditional water well completion arrangement which has been used in many environments over a number of years. 

The system of the invention includes a non-rotating tubing string formed from a synthetic polymeric material and having a surface end and a distal end. A bearing assembly is attached to the distal end of the tubing string and is adapted to be lowered to a predetermined depth within the well bore. The bearing assembly has a generally tubular body with an internal flow path which provides a path for a cleaning fluid and has a central axis. A jet nozzle carrier is rotatably mounted on the bearing assembly along the bearing central axis for rotation about the central axis. The jet nozzle carrier has a carrier body with at least one pair of outwardly extending tubular arms which extend from the carrier body generally perpendicular to the central axis of the bearing assembly and of the carrier body. Each of the outwardly extending arms terminates in a spray nozzle. 

A source of pressurized cleaning fluid is provided which communicates with the jet nozzle carrier for supplying fluid under pressure to the spray nozzles. Each of the spray nozzles is adapted to expel the cleaning fluid against the casing internal sidewalls with an inertial force. The inertial force has an equal and opposite reactive force. The pair of nozzles are mounted in the carrier body such that the reactive force is directionally offset from said carrier axis, thereby creating a twisting moment about the axis tending to rotate the jet nozzle carrier about the carrier central axis. In a preferred version of the system of the invention, the length of the outwardly extending tubular arms on the carrier body are each set at a predetermined distance from the carrier body. In the preferred embodiment, the spray nozzles located on the arms are positioned from within about 1/2 inch to 11/2 inches from the perforations in the casing internal sidewalls in use. A take up reel, located at the well surface, is provided for vertically moving the tubing string and carrier within the well bore. In a particularly preferred version of the system of the invention, the spray nozzles are located approximately 1 inch from the perforations in the casing internal sidewalls in use. 

There may be additional nozzles located on the carrier body which are not on outwardly extending tubular arms and which are also supplied with pressurized fluid for spraying the surrounding casing internal sidewalls. The source of pressurized cleaning fluid is preferably a piston pump mounted on a flat bed truck and powered by a diesel engine, the pump being capable of producing at least about 25 gpm at 4000 psi. 

The jet nozzle carrier body may also be centered in the well bore by means of a roller cage mounted on the tubing string above jet nozzle carrier body. The preferred roller cage has at least three longitudinal traveling arms alignable along the well bore axis, each of which has a roller mounted on either of two opposing outer extents thereof. Each of the traveling arms is connected to the tubing string by a scissor mechanism which allows radial inward and outward movement of the jet nozzle carrier body and its associated bearing assembly in order to continuously center the jet nozzle carrier body within the well bore. 

In a particularly preferred method of using the above described system, a non-rotating tubing string is provided with a source of fluid pressure for expelling a stream of fluid against the internal sidewalls of a well casing, the pressure source being arranged to communicate with the tubing string. Fluid is supplied under pressure through the tubing string to a jet carrier body having a plurality of spray nozzles arranged thereon so that the fluid pressure creates a twisting moment tending to angularly displace the spray nozzles about a central axis of the carrier body. The carrier body is moved vertically along the internal sidewalls of the well casing while spraying cleaning fluid through the nozzles. At least selected nozzles are mounted on the jet carrier body by outwardly extending tubular arms which extend from the carrier body generally perpendicular to the central axis thereof, each arm terminating in a spray nozzle. The length of each of the outwardly extending tubular arms on the carrier body is set at a predetermined distance, so that the spray nozzles located on the arms are positioned from within about 1/2 inch to 11/2 inches from the perforations in the casing internal sidewalls in use, most preferably about 1 inch from the perforations in the casing internal sidewalls. 

The well being treated is a traditional water well having a water bearing formation located at a known depth in the well bore. One cleaning method used is to move the cleaning apparatus slowly up 10 feet and then back down to the well bottom, followed by moving the apparatus up 20 feet and then back to the well bottom, followed by moving the apparatus up 30 feet and then back to the well bottom, and repeating the procedure until a depth is reached about 10 feet above the depth of the water bearing formation. Another technique which can be used is to move the cleaning apparatus only inches at a time, leaving the apparatus at a given depth for 20-30 seconds at a flow rate of 25 gpm at 4000 psi.