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  • Sam Murphy

Is your Rotary bit air delivery working for you?

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

Air Calculation

For rotary blast hole drilling, Danv Tools Australia is focused on three major factors: Air delivery, Weight on Bit, and RPM. The delivered air needs to have sufficient volume, at the proper pressure to assure optimum bearing life when drilling with recommended Pull down and RPM’s. Sufficient air volume is needed to produce an annular return velocity (Bailing Velocity) of 5,000 feet per minute for normal cuttings. Higher Bailing Velocities are required for wet, heavy cuttings and/or for drilling at very high penetration rates.

The simple flow equation, Q = AV is used. Since friction losses in the annulus of the relatively shallow holes drilled in blast hole applications are negligible, the flow equation becomes:

         Q = V / 183.35 * (D2 – d2)

Q = circulated air volume in cubic feet per minute V = return velocity in feet per minute D = hole diameter in inches d = pipe diameter in inches

The chart labelled “Air Volumetric Requirements Per Annular Velocity” summarises the circulated air volume with reference to hole diameters and pipe diameters for return velocity at 5,000, 7,000 and 9,000 ft./min.



Bailing Velocity

The flow equation may also be rewritten to solve for annular velocity V, and for our purpose the bailing velocity BV, when compressor capacity, hole diameter, and pipe diameter are known.

            BV = 183.35 * ACFM / (D2 – d2)

ACFM = actual free air volume delivered in cubic feet per minute BV = bailing velocity in feet per minute D = hole diameter in inches d = pipe diameter in inches


Nozzle Selection

Actual air volume delivered to the bit is a key factor in bearing life and hole cleaning. For optimum bit life and performance, nozzle diameter should be selected to maintain the system pressure close to the maximum allowable limit of the compressor. In addition, to maintain adequate bailing velocities, the pressure drop across the bit must be considered. Other factors include altitude, volumetric efficiency, ambient temperature, and mechanical condition of the compressor. Danv Tools uses an air volume measuring kit to establish the actual volume of air delivered. We can also determine the maximum recommended operating pressure.

The chart labelled “Nozzle Selection”, lists the approximate bit operating pressure with reference to air volume delivered and bit diameter, for each selected nozzle size. Actual pressures will depend on bit condition, bearing configuration and drill air piping condition. Pressure drop across bit should always be greater than 40 psi. Remember that there will be 4 – 10 psi in losses in the air system ahead of the bit.


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DANV Tools Australia
19b Beale Way,
Rockingham, WA, 6168
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