Which Teeth Will Survive The Cut? Adapting Your Selection

Me, explaining about our cutter systems
Me, explaining about our cutter systems

After my last post1, I received some comments and questions about the actual products we are applying in our cutter systems for our CSD’s2. Indeed, from a pure physical perspective, last post cuts to the heart of the processes, but does not explain our design of the working tool that makes a cutter suction dredge do its work.

Over the years, there has been a lot of development in this tool. Originally, suction dredges were plain suction dredges, working in non-cohesive sand. When the soil was more cohesive than could be dug with the standard suction dredges, attaching a mechanical device for loosening the ground enabled the suction dredge to work in this environment. From this original concept, the cutter head was already recognisable as a crown with teeth on a back ring and a suction mouth in the centre. From there, a lot of experimentation was done, but ultimately it all came back to this concept. Although modern cutter heads have a vastly improved performance and lifetime.

The cutting process in a modern cutter head is a combination of the rotation of the head and the swing of the dredge. The teeth describe a compound path of translation and rotation and each individual tooth has its own set of cutting parameters for depth and angle varying over time. Moreover, the combination of teeth on the different arms, allow for a staggering of the teeth that each tooth cuts fresh material and optimising the use of the teeth and spreading the wear. This results in a complicated geometry of the arms and a intricate pattern of the teeth.

Teeth system with adapters (left) teeth system direct on arm (right)
Teeth system with adapters (left) teeth system direct on arm (right)

Once a cutter design has been chosen, there is still some tuning possible. Normally, the teeth are fitted on adapters and there are several teeth types available for a certain adapter. Pick points, Chisels and Flares. Most productivity can be expected from the wider teeth. However, the penetration of the wide teeth is less. So, for harder material you want to select narrower teeth.

Adapter system (left), teeth range with adapter (top), teeth range direct on arm (bottom)
Adapter system (left), teeth range with adapter (top), teeth range direct on arm (bottom)

Wear is also an issue3. And as the teeth are in direct contact with the fresh material, the wear rates can be severe. The disadvantage of a teeth and adapter system is that that are quite big. So, less teeth fit on an arm, reducing production on average. As most of our CSD’s are working in more gentle sands we selected a cutter system, that provides more teeth to engage in the action, increasing production. As these teeth are fitted directly on the arms, there are no adapters that wear also. Consequently having no adapters, simpler arms and dirt cheap teeth result in a low investment low OPEX cutter system. Although you might have to check the state of your teeth more often, in the end you spend less money on a cubic meter produced.

Teeth in various stages of degradation
Teeth in various stages of degradation

Teeth can be worn down to the root. Also they are not wearing evenly. Usually, they last longer on the outside, near the back ring. You might consider using different tooth forms over the arm. Experience and practice, will guide you in selecting the best combination. In line with the previous post, the analogy will be on the table. Just as you select different teeth for your fork, you can select different teeth on your cutter depending on the dish being served.

Different teeth selection for tableware
Different teeth selection for tableware

References

  1. Experiencing The Cutting Edge Of Dredging Technology, Discover Dredging
  2. Cutter Suction Dredger, Damen
  3. Wear of Rock Cutting Tools, Peter Verhoef

See also

Experiencing The Cutting Edge Of Dredging Technology

Exhibit on cutting forces at the Damen Dredging Experience
Exhibit on cutting forces at the Damen Dredging Experience

Ever tried to eat peas with a knife? Didn’t fare well, right? Sorry, this post will not help you. It is just more entertaining doing so. And you might remember this week’s lesson.

After all the other posts, I would like to continue our tour along the exhibits of the Damen Dredging Experience. We’ve seen at “the Bank” that by gravity and hydraulic action the sand can start moving towards the suction mouth. Another well-known mechanism for collecting the sand is by cutting. This mechanism is primarily used in the cutter heads of CSD’s of course, but also in the trailing drag heads of TSHD’s.

Be aware, that the gravel sample in the exhibit is an artificial sediment, specifically designed to be porous and demonstrate the “rolling peas effect”. Naturally occurring gravel sediments have a wide range Particle Size Distribution and will have virtually no gaps between the grains. The smaller grains will lock the bigger grains in place and it will be more difficult to move them.

In this exhibit you will see two different types of sediment. Wet fine grained sand and very coarse gravel in a jar with a handle. When you rotate the blade in the gravel, you will notice a rather high cutting force, that remains relatively constant. The water can easily move through the pores. Rotating the blade in the jar with sand, is very hard at first. But as soon, as there is a chunk of sand dislodged, the cutting force is decreased dramatically. The decrease can be explained by the fact, that once water has entered the shear plane, it cannot dissipate back in the pores and will lubricate the chunk moving over the bed. This is a phenomenon, sometimes encountered with ploughs.

Under pressure in densely packed sediments
Under pressure in densely packed sediments

The theory of cutting sand is largely explored by dr. S.A. Miedema1. He wrote an extensive book2 on this subject and anyone interested in the details is encouraged to read it. Again, the basis for cutting sand is the dilatancy of sand, just like in the previous exhibit. The grains are moved and the water has to be forced in the pores. As the blade moves at a certain speed, the sand exerts a horizontal cutting force on the blade. Force, times speed is power. At this speed and cutting height you have a certain production. Power divided by production yields a Specific Cutting Energy3, which is a parameter for how much effort it costs to cut 1m³. The SCE is largely governed by the undrained shear strength and the angle of internal friction and is different for every type of sediment. They are measured with a Cone Penetration Test4,5. In order to estimate the production of the dredge, we really need to know these parameters. If they are not available, maybe you can receive the results from a Standard Penetration Test6,7.

Basic explanation of the theory of sand cutting
Basic explanation of the theory of sand cutting

From the equations, you can derive that for a hard material, the SCE can be quite high. Consequently, with a known installed cutter power, the production Q will result quite low. From this perspective, there is no upper limit in the hardness of the soil, anything can be cut. It is just, that the resulting production might be too low for a viable business case. In this respect, it is always difficult to say the maximum hardness of the soil the CSD can cut. Usually, the increased vibrations and unsteady process will limit the productivity in such circumstances.

Example of a cutter production for a CSD
Example of a cutter production for a CSD

This provokes a nice practical experiment for you at home or when you have you have to entertain guests at dinner: have a nice recipe with big peas and fine grained rice8. Serve the peas and rice separately and notice the variation of effort to stir the ingredients separately. Then, mix a portion together and notice the increase in cutting force. For enhanced realism, add some sauce. Exclaim your amazement to your perplexed table partners and explain that you are not playing with your food, but are on a study assignment for your work. Bon Appetit!

Ingredients for a pea and rice recipe
Ingredients for a pea and rice recipe

References

  1. dr. S.A. Miedema, TU Delft
  2. The Delft Sand, Clay & Rock Cutting Model, Dredging Engineering
  3. CEDA Webinar Specific Cutting Energy, CEDA
  4. Cone penetration test, Wikipedia
  5. Painted Hills, how to unveil the sediment layers below the surface, Discover Dredging
  6. Standard penetration test, Wikipedia
  7. Lessons in Camping: Basic Soil Investigation, Discover Dredging
  8. Nice rice-a-pea, Albert Heijn

See also

We Choose To Adopt Energy Transition, But How Will We Succeed?

President John F. Kennedy speaking at Rice University on September 12, 1962 (Credit: NASA)
President John F. Kennedy speaking at Rice University on September 12, 1962 (Credit: NASA)

‘We choose to go to the moon.’ Was the famous speech at Rice University of President John F. Kennedy to express his ambition to send his nation to the Moon1. At the time, his call was far from clearly achievable. But it was a very clear roadmap and it quickly gained traction. The success of the Apollo project is well known. Neil Armstrong did land on the Moon within a decade and the American flag is still planted on its surface.

Panel discussion at the CEDA Dredging Days 2019 with Mike van der Vijver
Panel discussion at the CEDA Dredging Days 2019 with Mike van der Vijver

At the CEDA Dredging Days 20192, there was an interesting panel discussion on ‘Energy transition: the views in our dredging community’3. Panel members were: Eric de Deckere, Michael Deruyk, Kaj Portin and Klaas Visser. The discussion was moderated by Mike van der Vijver from MindMeeting. As an introductory teaser to the audience, he posited the claim: ‘Excessive ambition drives breakthroughs’. The question is: ‘Is the dredging industry ambitious enough to convert to a new fossil free energy source?’ The audience was polled for their opinion on a scale from one to ten and the response ranged from three to eight. The three represented the position, that the industry is not doing much. What is visibly done, are only single purpose, company specific solutions that are not adopted by the community. On the other hand, there was also a very positive signal with an eight for ambition. The sense of urgency is very well present in the community. Most companies are developing plans and cooperating in working groups, such as the CEDA Working Group on Energy Efficiency4. Also, the government is pitching in with initiatives on zero emission maintenance dredging, where the dredging community is actively participating in putting forward proposals.

So, why is there still no zero emission dredge? What is the ambition lacking? The hint is the opinion that the effort is not focussed. The strong motivation in Kennedy’s speech was that there was a very clear picture what to do. What do we do: ‘Put a man on the Moon’. When: ‘By the end of the decade’. How: ‘Bring him safely back’. Ambition with a clear plan can indeed achieve great things. Ambition without motivation will only bring daydreaming and lethargy.

Block diagram of influencers for energy transition in the dredging community
Block diagram of influencers for energy transition in the dredging community

To achieve something, we need motivation. And who is responsible for pulling this off? Mike polled the audience again for: 1) Government, 2) Public opinion, 3) Companies, 4) Technology. There was not a clear picture here either. All positions are valid. Another driver is the reward for the effort. The Apollo project effectively created part of our modern society. What would the energy transition yield for the dredging community: ‘Learning by challenge’, ‘Flexibility and resilience in energy generation’, ‘Low maintenance and higher independence’?

At this website I can’t change the world, but addressing most issues mentioned, I can only put forward my idea on the ‘How’ motivation. We know how to apply power. As long as the power arrives electrically, we can use it. Essentially, we have to generate electricity with a flexible power source. The investment lifetime of a dredge often exceeds 30 years, but under the current circumstances, the power plant only lasts ten. The solution would be to have some separate module for power generation. Either locally, near the dredge, or remote at the end of the pipeline. As every project and application will be different, it will be a challenge to design the specific solution. But I am looking forward in developing the solutions below with any interested customer5.

Transition schedule to convert to fossil fuel free dredging equipment
Transition schedule to convert to fossil fuel free dredging equipment

References

  1. We choose to go to the Moon, Wikipedia
  2. CEDA Dredging Days 2019, CEDA
  3. Programme 7 November 2019, Panel Discussion, CEDA
  4. CEDA Working Group on Energy Efficiency, CEDA
  5. Innovation at Damen Dredging Equipment, Damen

See also