Fracturing treatments often require massive volumes of silica sand. This sand must be unloaded from transport vehicles into proppant storage vessels, conveyed from the storage vessel to the fracturing blender, and mixed with fluid before being pumped down hole. Silica dust becomes airborne during this process, and onsite personnel can be exposed to that silica dust.

In addition to posing a potential health risk if not handled properly or if personal protective equipment (PPE) is not worn, the silica dust can also negatively affect the fracturing equipment. It can lead to premature wear and failure of high-value capital equipment. For example, the dust increases the frequency of engine air filter changes and can plug radiator cores, reducing cooling capacity. Additionally, silica dust is highly abrasive and can cause premature wear on cylinders, bearings, gear sets, shafts, and other moving parts.

Vacuum style dust collectors for capturing airborne silica have recently been introduced on some fracturing sites. Personnel exposure to respirable crystalline silica can be reduced and the negative effects on equipment minimized when using these dust collectors. However, one challenge introduced by the use of the collector is the need for packaging and disposal of the captured dust. This paper discusses an apparatus and ergonomic method for packaging and disposing of the dust once it is removed from the air. The apparatus is composed of a plenum chamber formed in a funnel or a frustum configuration that discharges into a distribution assembly. The distribution assembly includes a number of individual chutes, each equipped with a circular collar at the outlet, facilitating the attachment of dust collection sacks. The plenum chamber, distribution chute assembly, and individual dust collection sacks are supported by a frame assembly. This apparatus is used to package the material exiting the dust collector in easily transportable containers.

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