Numerical and experimental study of wedge penetration into oil sands
Oil sand mining in Alberta’s Athabasca region using shovels and trucks will provide about 50% of Canada’s oil supply by 2010. Incremental improvements in the shovel efficiency can have significant cost savings. In order to design better shovels, including shovel buckets and bucket trajectories, it is important to understand the oil sand - shovel interaction forces. The first step in this process is to improve our understanding of mechanical response of oil sand to digging processes such as the penetration of a shovel into oil sands.
An experimental and numerical study was conducted on the geomechanical behavior of oil sands during penetration tests in which a steel wedge was forced into compacted oil sands. Data from the laboratory tests were used to calibrate a discrete element model of the oil sands using Particle Flow Code (PFC). Additional test data obtained from standard triaxial tests were also used in the calibration process.
These tests allowed calibration and verification of PFC input parameters for oil sands. The numerical and experimental study of wedge penetration into oil sands revealed the mechanisms of wedge/oil sands interaction, identified the factors controlling the reaction force applied to the wedge, and suggested approaches for bucket design improvements.
Modelling, digging, Oil sands, PFC, Shovels, geotechnical