Title:
DENSITY ACTUATABLE DOWNHOLE MEMBER AND METHODS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed herein is an actuatable downhole member. The actuatable downhole member includes, a downhole member with a selected density, the selected density being comparable to an anticipated downhole fluid density such that a difference in the density of the downhole member and the density of the downhole fluid creates a bias on the downhole member to actuate the downhole member.



Inventors:
Holmes, Kevin C. (Houston, TX, US)
Johnson, Michael H. (Katy, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/933616
Publication Date:
05/07/2009
Filing Date:
11/01/2007
Assignee:
Baker Hughes Incorporated (Houston, TX, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
166/373, 29/592
International Classes:
E21B34/00; E21B34/06
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20090255682Large Bore Vertical TreeOctober, 2009Voss et al.
20070193748Method for producing viscous hydrocarbon using steam and carbon dioxideAugust, 2007Ware et al.
20080017416METHOD OF DRILLING FROM A SHAFT FOR UNDERGROUND RECOVERY OF HYDROCARBONSJanuary, 2008Watson et al.
20090242187HYDRAULICALLY OPENABLE PORTED SUBOctober, 2009Themig et al.
20100038074ANTI-EXTRUSION DEVICE FOR SWELL RUBBER PACKERFebruary, 2010Patel
20090145597TAPERED SLEEVE AND FRACTURING HEAD SYSTEM FOR PROTECTING A CONVEYANCE STRINGJune, 2009CHEREWYK
20090242202Method of Perforating for Effective Sand Plug Placement in Horizontal WellsOctober, 2009Rispler et al.
20090084535APPARATUS STRING FOR USE IN A WELLBOREApril, 2009Bertoja et al.
20040194954Hydraulically set liner hangerOctober, 2004Cram et al.
20020153169Pipe handling deviceOctober, 2002Sewell
20090218099Method for Enhancing Heavy Hydrocarbon RecoverySeptember, 2009Hart et al.



Primary Examiner:
COY, NICOLE A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CANTOR COLBURN LLP (20 Church Street 22nd Floor, Hartford, CT, 06103, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An actuatable downhole member comprising: a downhole member with a selected density, the selected density being comparable to an anticipated downhole fluid density such that a difference in the density of the downhole member and the density of the downhole fluid creates a bias on the downhole member to actuate the downhole member.

2. The actuatable downhole member of claim 1, wherein the downhole member is a valve.

3. The actuatable downhole member of claim 1, wherein the downhole member is a flapper.

4. The actuatable downhole member of claim 1, further comprising a core made of a first material and a coating made of a second material, the first material having a different density than the second material.

5. The actuatable downhole member of claim 4, wherein one of the first material and the second material is denser than the selected density and the other of the first material and the second material is less dense than the selected density.

6. The actuatable downhole member of claim 4, wherein the second material is bonded to the first material through chemical vapor deposition.

7. The actuatable downhole member of claim 1, wherein the downhole member is fabricated from a powdered material.

8. The actuatable downhole member of claim 7, wherein the powdered material is nonmetallic.

9. The actuatable downhole member of claim 7, wherein the powdered material is coated through chemical vapor deposition.

10. The actuatable downhole member of claim 7, wherein the powdered material is glass or ceramic.

11. The actuatable downhole member of claim 7, wherein the powdered material is hollow or foamed.

12. The actuatable downhole member of claim 1, wherein the downhole member is sintered.

13. A method of making a density actuatable downhole member comprising: determining a target density for the downhole member based on an estimated downhole fluid density; and forming the downhole member such that it has the target density.

14. The method of claim 13 further comprising: selecting at least one material with a density other than the target density; shaping the material to a near final shape of the downhole member; and processing the near final shape to a final shape having the target density.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein the shaping and processing include the process of powdered metallurgy.

16. The method of claim 13, further comprising: selecting a first material with a density other than the target density; selecting a second material with a density other than the target density; and adhering the first material to the second material.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein one of the first material and the second material is denser than the target density and the other of the first material and the second material that is not denser than the target density is less dense than the target density.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein the adhering further includes coating.

19. The method of claim 17, wherein the adhering further includes chemical vapor depositioning.

20. A method of actuating a downhole member comprising: positioning the downhole member having a target density downhole where it is submergible in fluid; and actuating the downhole member through buoyancy forces acting upon the downhole member in response to fluid at least partially submerging the downhole member.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Actuating downhole devices such as check valves, for example, often is accomplished by remote control via a slickline or wireline. Such actuation can include movement of a downhole member directly through movement of the wireline or can include communication to a downhole actuator such as an electric motor, for example, through the wireline. In either case the actuation is initiated remotely. Other systems have been developed that do not require remote actuation but instead rely on a downhole change in pressure to initiate an actuation. Such systems may use a pressurized cavity with a membrane set to rupture at a selected pressure, for example. Automated actuation of downhole tools is desirable and systems enabling automated actuation would be well received in the art.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Disclosed herein is an actuatable downhole member. The actuatable downhole member includes, a downhole member with a selected density, the selected density being comparable to an anticipated downhole fluid density such that a difference in the density of the downhole member and the density of the downhole fluid creates a bias on the downhole member to actuate the downhole member.

Further disclosed herein is a method of malting a density actuatable downhole member. The method includes, determining a target density for the downhole member based on an estimated downhole fluid density and forming the downhole member such that it has the target density.

Further disclosed herein is a method of actuating a downhole member. The method includes, positioning the downhole member having a target density downhole where it is submergible in fluid and actuating the downhole member through buoyancy forces acting upon the downhole member in response to fluid at least partially submerging the downhole member.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The following descriptions should not be considered limiting in any way. With reference to the accompanying drawings, like elements are numbered alike:

FIG. 1 depicts a partial cross sectional view of an actuatable downhole system disclosed herein in a closed configuration;

FIG. 2 depicts a cross sectional view of the actuatable downhole system of FIG. 1 in an open configuration;

FIG. 3 depicts a perspective view of the actuatable downhole member shown in the system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 depicts a cross sectional view of the actuatable member of FIG. 1 taken at arrows 4-4; and

FIG. 5 depicts a cross sectional view of an alternate embodiment of the actuatable member of FIG. 1 taken at arrows 5-5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A detailed description of one or more embodiments of the disclosed apparatus and method are presented herein by way of exemplification and not limitation with reference to the Figures.

Referring to FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, an actuatable downhole system 10 including an embodiment of the actuatable downhole member 14 disclosed herein is illustrated. In addition to the downhole member 14, shown in this embodiment as a flapper valve, the downhole system 10 includes, a first tubular 18, a second tubular 22 and a third tubular 26. The first tubular 18 and the second tubular 22 define a first chamber 30 by the clearance therebetween. Similarly, the second tubular 22 and the third tubular 26 define a second chamber 34 by the clearance therebetween. The second tubular 22 isolates the first chamber 30 from the second chamber 34. A port 38 through the second tubular 22 fluidically connects the first chamber 30 to the second chamber 34. This fluidic connection is interruptible by the flapper 14. The flapper 14, in this embodiment, is attached to the second tubular 22 by a hinge 42 such that the flapper 14 rotates about the hinge 42 between a closed configuration 46 as shown in FIG. 1 and an open configuration 50 as shown in FIG. 2. In the closed configuration 46 the flapper 14 is sealed to a seal surface 54 of the second tubular 22 thereby preventing flow through the port 38. Alternately, in the open configuration 50 the flapper 14 is pivoted away from the second tubular 22 thereby allowing fluid to flow through the port 38.

Forces to actuate the flapper 14 between the closed configuration 46 and the open configuration 50 can be generated by a difference in density between the flapper 14 and a fluid within which the flapper 14 is at least partially submerged. A description of the mechanics of such actuation will be presented below after embodiments of controlling density of the flapper 14 during fabrication thereof are discussed.

Referring to FIG. 4, a flapper 14 with a selected density is disclosed. Controlling the density of a flapper 14 during fabrication thereof can be done in various ways, a few of which are described herein. Powdered metallurgy is one process that can be used in the fabrication of downhole components such as valves and flappers. The powdered metallurgy process includes generating a metal powder 58, compressing the metal powder 58 into a “green” shape, which is similar to the final shape that the component will take. The green shape is heated and compressed further, in a process referred to as sintering, to cause the powdered metal particles to adhere together to form the final, or near final, part. Powdered metallurgy allows for some control of the density of the final part through control of such things as physical properties of the metal powder 58 and temperatures and pressures used during the sintering process, for example. The potential density range is also due, in part, to the size, shape, quantity and distribution of voids 62 in the interstices between particles of the metal powder 58. The density ranges achievable with the foregoing methods, however, are limited. Such limitation is, in part; due to variations in mechanical properties of the final part that result from changes in the foregoing methods. For example, using low pressure during the sintering process can produce a low-density part, however, the same low pressure may result in unacceptable surface finishes or a part with insufficient mechanical strength.

An alternate embodiment can provide additional variation in density through controlling the number, size and shape of voids in the finished part without sacrificing mechanical properties. This embodiment includes using a metal powder 58 made up of hollow or foamed particles. As such the density of the finished part can have a greater density range than systems using solid particles. Alternately, the density can be controlled by use of particles other than metal, such as ceramic or glass, for example. Inadequate adhesion of particles to one another with such alternate materials, however, can weaken the finished part. An embodiment disclosed herein therefore, addresses this concern by coating or plating the nonmetallic particles prior to use in the powdered metallurgy process. One method of coating the particles is through chemical vapor deposition or CVD. The chemical vapor deposition process can controllably grow a coating of a specific metal onto surfaces of the powdered material particles. The metal coating can have excellent adhesion to the individual particles and provide an exterior surface on each particle, susceptible to adhesion, to other particles in the sintering process, thereby providing greater strength in the finished part. The use of nonmetallic powder material prior to the CVD process permits a greater range of density of the finished part, as well as allowing for control of other properties such as electrical conductivity, magnetic properties, coefficient of thermal expansion and thermal conductivity, for example.

Referring to FIG. 5, a cross sectional view of an alternate embodiment of the flapper 74 is illustrated. The flapper 74 includes a core 78 made of a first material and a coating 82, or plating, made of a second material. The material used to make the core 78 could be less dense than a density of fluid into which the flapper 74 is expected to be at least partially submerged. The material used for the coating 82 could be denser than the expected fluid density. Thus, by controlling the amount of coating 82 applied the overall density of the flapper 74, based on the finished part's volume and mass, can be accurately set. As such, the flapper 74 can be made to be denser or less dense than a fluid into which it will be at least partially submerged to thereby control actuation of the flapper 74 due to its density relative to the density or change in density of the fluid. Alternately, an embodiment with a core 78 that is denser than the fluid could be used with a coating 82 that is less dense to achieve similar results of relative densities.

The foregoing embodiments could also be combined to create yet another embodiment by, for example, making the core 78 with a powdered metallurgical process with hollow, foamed or nonmetallic particles, the individual particles of which may or may not be coated as disclosed above. This powdered metal core 78 could then be coated, possibly with a CVD process, for example, to attain the target density of the finished part.

How the density of the flapper 14 effects actuation of the flapper 14 will be discussed here in more detail. Forces acting upon the flapper 14 can be proportional to the mass of the flapper 14. A few examples of such forces are gravitational force and forces due to acceleration such as centripetal force, for example. In addition to acting upon the flapper 14, these forces also act upon everything that has mass, including any fluid, that may be near or in contact with the flapper 14.

Additionally, if the flapper 14 is at least partially submerged in the fluid there will also be buoyancy forces acting upon the flapper 14 by the fluid. The buoyancy forces are proportional to the difference in density of the flapper 14 and the fluid for the portion of the flapper 14 that is submerged within the fluid. The buoyancy forces act in a direction opposite to that of the gravitational or centripetal forces. As such, changes in the buoyancy forces can be used to actuate the flapper 14. Changes in buoyancy forces can result from changes in either the density of fluid into which at least a portion of the flapper 14 is submerged or changes in the amount of the flapper 14 that is submerged in the fluid. As such, by selecting a density and actuation direction of the flapper 14 relative to the density of the fluid and direction of the forces acting thereupon, the flapper can be set to automatically actuate in response to changes in density and position of the fluid with respect to the flapper 14. Such automated control of a downhole system 10 may be desirable for multiple reasons including, faster response than an operator initiated system and system simplification with lower costs as compared to systems utilizing a communication link between surface and the downhole actuatable member.

While the invention has been described with reference to an exemplary embodiment or embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from the essential scope thereof. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiment disclosed as the best mode contemplated for carrying out this invention, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the claims.