Trelleborg’s marine and
infrastructure operation has supplied its rubber-lined expansion barrels to a
major oil sands mine at Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, one of the largest
integrated combined oil sands mining and refinery facilities in the world. The
supply of Trelleborg expansion barrels has significantly
increased productivity, while reducing downtime.
Due to the size of the mine, oil
sands slurry and sediments must travel long distances in the mine’s pipe line
system. Therefore, the mine specified Trelleborg’s expansion barrels, which
enable the thermal expansion and compression of pipe line systems, to
facilitate extended periods of travel in diverse temperatures at the mine. This
removed the mine’s need for frequent maintenance and consequent downtime, which
is caused by extensive wear on the barrel.
The expansion barrels, which were tested over a four-year
period at the mine, are flexible in all directions, so they can compensate for
the thermal expansion and lateral deflection in a pipe system. Thus, enabling
the pumps which circulate the slurry throughout the pipe system to be protected
against load forces, allowing for a safe expansion and compression.
Richard Hepworth, President of Trelleborg’s marine and infrastructure operation,
commented: “Testing proved that slurry was able to travel for 24,000
hours in the pipe without maintenance, equating to approximately three years, as
opposed to around 4,000 hours, which non-expanding barrels often provide. With
temperatures across certain parts of our mine reaching as low as minus
46-degrees Celsius, downtime can compromise the safety of our people during
“We were inspired by the demand
of the oil sands tailings processing at the
mine, due to
it being a high-pressure project that demands bespoke equipment to operate in a
unique environment which poses complex challenges.
“With our in-house expertise and mining
knowledge, we knew we could supply equipment to meet the demands of the mine’s environmental
and business challenges, while providing a solution that can compensate for two
or three expansion joints and allow for easy mounting and inspecting.”
The configuration of Trelleborg’s
barrel, which can successfully operate in temperatures between minus 46-degrees
Celsius and 90-degrees Celsius – and has an expansion / compression range of 910 mm
– was successfully patented in Canada in 2012. The
barrel also provides an installation hydraulic ram as a feature for simpler
maintenance and rotation.
For more information on
Trelleborg’s expansion barrels, visit: