The effect of treatment with ferrochrome lignosulfonate on both sodium and calcium bentonites has been examined. In the early stages of treatment it appears that some base exchange of iron and chromium for sodium may occur with the sodium bentonite. Such exchange appears specific for exchange of sodium ions when the calcium ion concentration represents 40 – 55 per cent of the total exchangeable cations, and when additions of lignosulfonate are less than 1 lb per bbl. Adsorption appears entirely physical above 1 lb per bbl treatment level for all concentrations of calcium studied.Gel strength and plastic viscosity of both calcium and sodium bentonite systems were reduced with treatments of ferrochrome lignosulfonate up to 2 lb per bbl, the greatest reduction occurring within a range of calcium concentration of 40 - 55 per cent of the total exchange capacity of the clay.


The problem of control of viscosity and gel strength of drilling fluids by the action of thinners or dispersants has been studied by many investigators. In addition, much work has been done on formation of gel structure in clay suspensions. However, gel formation and structure still are incompletely understood, and the use of the various dispersing chemicals is based, to a large extent, on data almost entirely empirical in name. In recent years the lignosulfonates have become increasingly important in the treatment and control of drilling fluids. More specifically, ferrochrome lignosulfonate has found rather wide acceptance, particularly in calcium systems.Lignosulfonates are refined lignin products made from spent sulfite liquor from which the fermentable sugars have been removed. The exact structure of lignin is not known; however, it is believed to be a phenolic propane type polymer which may exist as a branched chain or cross linked structure. The molecular weights of lignosulfonates probably range from 300 to 100,000 or more.A better understanding of the mechanism of adsorption of dispersants is essential before improvement and development of characteristics of drilling fluids and drilling fluid control is possible. This investigation was undertaken to determine the action of ferrochrome lignosulfonate on sodium calcium montmorillonites.


A Stormer viscosimeter and Fann V-G meter were used to measure viscosity and gel strength. A Zeiss spectrophotometer was used for analysis of Fe and Cr and the flame attachment was employed in the analysis of Na, Ca and Mg. A General Electric X-ray diffraction unit utilizing Copper Ka radiation and a Ni-filter was utilized in the X-ray studies.


Two systems were studied. Predominantly sodium clay, obtained from Wyoming, and a predominantly calcium clay from Texas were used. These particular samples were chosen because of the extensive work of characterization completed by Mungan. Ionic base exchange capacity determined by flame photometry and total exchange capacity by the Kjehldahl method were obtained experimentally. A 7-per cent suspension of the sodium clay and a 20-per cent suspension of the calcium clay in distilled water were prepared by mixing with a high-speed mixer. The suspensions were allowed to stand for two weeks for complete hydration. Calcium chloride was added to portions of the sodium and calcium clay suspensions to obtain suspensions varying in Ca++ concentration as shown in Table I.A series of treatments was run with 500-ml portions of the original suspensions using a ferrochrome lignosulfonate. Treatment was carried out in the same way with each of the suspensions of varying Ca concentration. Viscosity and gel strength were measured and a filtrate obtained at each treatment level. Ten ml of filtrate were diluted to 50 ml, and aliquot portions of the 50 ml were taken for the Na, Ca, and Mg analysis by the flame photometer.


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