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Drilling & Production

New fluid end design from Cat cuts common failure causes

By eliminating one of the most common causes of fluid end failure — fatigue cracking at the intersection of the bores — new Cat Cube Bore well stimulation technology extends block life by 50 percent or more. Available exclusively from Caterpillar, this innovative geometry significantly reduces the downtime and costs associated with fluid end replacement.

"Fluid ends are costly consumable items, and when they reach the end of their lives, it can be a labour- and time-consuming process to replace them," said Shaun Boller, Caterpillar Oil & Gas pressure pumping specialist. "As the manufacturer, anything we can do to extend the life of the block keeps our customers pumping and earning money."

What sets Cat Cube Bore apart from other fluid ends is its geometry. Traditional products focus stress to the corners of the intersecting bore, resulting in high concentrated stresses in localized areas. Stress combined with corrosion pitting causes cracks to initiate and spread, compromising the pump's overall function and leading to block failure.

"We explored a number of ways to solve the problems of stress and cracking," Boller said. "Ultimately, it came down to one thing — to prevent cracking, you have to eliminate high-stress areas, and that requires modifying the geometry of the fluid end."

The Cat Cube Bore design disperses stress from the high-pressure bore into the surrounding material. It removes material in critical areas near the bore intersections and smoothes large corners, which in turn smoothes the stress profiles and allows energy to be absorbed by the surrounding block material.

According to validation testing performed in the field, the design completely eliminates the failure mode for intersecting bore corrosion fatigue cracking. Field trials are underway or complete at nine different customer sites across the United States.

"In Cat Cube Bore field trials completed so far, we've seen an average increase in durability of 109 percent compared to current production fluid ends," Boller said. "That's more than double our original estimate."

Available to order  through the Cat dealer network, Cat Cube Bore well stimulation technology works with all current Cat power end and fluid end components. There's no need for customers to change parts inventory or existing operating and maintenance practices to realize the benefits of extended life and reduced operating costs.

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