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Publication numberUS3183675 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication date18 May 1965
Filing date2 Nov 1961
Priority date2 Nov 1961
Also published asDE1484426B1
Publication numberUS 3183675 A, US 3183675A, US-A-3183675, US3183675 A, US3183675A
InventorsSchroeder Carl E
Original AssigneeConch Int Methane Ltd
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method of freezing an earth formation
US 3183675 A
Abstract  available in
Images(1)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

y 13, 1965 c. E. SCHROEDER 3,183,675

METHOD OF FREEZING AN EARTH FORMATION Filed Nov. 2, 1961 FIG. 1

INVENTOR. Carl E Schroeder BY M 6/ United States Patent 3,183,675 METHOD OF FREEZING AN EARTH FORMATION Carl E. Schroeder, Ponca City, Okla, assignor to Conch International Methane Limited, Nassau, Bahamas, a

The invention relates to a method of freezing an earth formation containing or impregnated with a liquid by inserting cooling tubes vertically into the earth formation and passing a refrigerant through said cooling tubes.

The invention relates in particular to such a method for use in the preparation of a reservoir for the storage of liquefied gases which comprises a hole in the surface of the earth.

In this specification the expression liquefied gas, means liquid which boils at atmospheric pressure at a temperature below the ambient temperature and the expression a hole in the surface of the earth means a place in the surface of the earth which has a substantial area on the plane of the surface in relation to its capacity.

Liquefied gas can be stored successfully in a hole in the surface of the earth, provided that the earth formation surrounding said hole is sealed by a liquid which is in frozen condition at the boiling point of the liquefied gas to be stored. Preferably the hole is completely covered by a heat-insulated roof so as to diminish the influx of ambient heat to the liquefied gas stored in the hole. A reservoir of this kind is disclosed in U. S. Patent No 3,159,006.

The hole may be a naturally occurring one or it may be made artificially by excavation or by suitable explosion forces. When working in a very wet earth formation it may be desirable to freeze the water in the earth before carrying out the excavation. When working in dry sand it may be desirable to impregnate the area in which the hole is to be made with water, then freeze the water and carry out the excavation. In the case that the earth formation is not very wet it is possible to make the hole first by excavation and to freeze the water in the earth formation surrounding the hole afterwards but before storing the liquefied gas in the hole. In all cases the earth formation can be frozen by means of cooling tubes inserted vertically into the earth and by passing a refrigerant through said cooling tubes.

Now in the method according to the invention, the cooling tubes used are of a kind having an outer surface which is provided with a continuous helical fin.

The continuous helical fins assist in the installation of the cooling tubes in the earth formation and they provide a better heat transfer between the cooling tube and the earth formation. Furthermore, the helical fins provide a good anchorage of the cooling tubes in the earth formation. Also the continuous helical fins make it possible to fill up completely with earth the spaces between the fins.

The invention will now be further explained with reference to the drawings, in which FIG. 1 shows a cross section of an earth formation in which the cooling tubes according to the invention are present;

FIG. 2 shows a plain view of the arrangement according to FIG. 1; and

FIG. 3 shows in detail a cooling tube having a continuous helical fin.

The cooling tubes 1 are provided with a continuous helical fin 2. Each cooling tube 1 is also provided with an inner tube 6, an inlet 3 and an outlet 4. The earth formation is indicated by the numeral 5. The hole to be excavated in the earth formation 5 is indicated by the dotted line 7.

Each cooling tube 1 can be inserted into the earth formation 5 by rotating it around its vertical axis and by exerting a downward force on it. Preferably a hole 8 is first made in the earth formation and then the cooling tube is inserted in the hole 8. The hole 8 has about a diameter corresponding to the outer diameter of the continuous helical fin 2. The spaces between the windings of the helical fin 2 can be filled up with earth or sand 5a after installation by rotating the cooling tube 1 around its longitudinal axis. When the cooling tubes 1 have been inserted into the earth formation a refrigerant is introduced into each inlet 3 of each cooling tube 1 by means of suitable piping (not shown in drawings) which is then attached to inlet 3. The refrigerant passes downwardly through the space between inner tube 6 and the outer wall of each cooling tube 1 and then upwardly through the inner tube 6. Finally the refrigerant flows out of outlet 4. By means of suitable piping, which is attached to outlet 4 after the cooling tubes are installed, the refrigerant is then led to a cooling installation for cooling the refrigerant down again. After passing the cooling installation the refrigerant is again led by means of suitable piping to the inlet 3 of each cooling tube 1. By passing the refrigerant through the cooling tubes 1, the liquid (in most cases water) contained in the earth formation 5 will freeze.

When it is intended to construct a hole in the ground for storing liquefied gases, the cooling tubes 1 are inserted into the earth formation 5 in a roughly circular manner. Then refrigerant is passed through the cooling tubes 1 so that the earth formation is frozen and then a hole 7 is excavated in the frozezn earth formation 5. Finally a heat insulated roof is placed over the hole in the ground. Instead of excavating the hole 7 after freezing the earth formation 5, it is also possible, however, to excavate the hole 7 first and to freeze the earth formation 5 after excavating the hole 7. If the earth formation is very wet, however, the first mentioned method is preferred.

I claim:

1. Method of freezing a moist earth formation comprising the following steps:

(a) excavating a cylindrical hole in the surface of the earth;

(b) inserting into said hole a cooling tube having a helical heat-conducting fin fixed to the outer surface of the tube, said fin winding around said tube along the length from the inserted end thereof and having a slightly lesser outer diameter than said hole, said tube being positioned with its other end projecting from said hole;

(c) back-filling the space between the wall of said hole and the outer wall of said tube with loose waterpermeable backfill material by adding said backfill material at the top of the hole and rotating said tube in a direction such that the spaces between the windings of the helical fin are filled by the backfill material;

(d) circulating a refrigerant through said cooling tube to freeze the moist earth in the vicinity of the tube.

2. The method according to claim 1, said cooling tube having an inner conduit and an outer conduit surrounding said inner conduit and interconnected with said inner conduit at the bottom of the tube, including the step of passing said refrigerant from the top of the tube down trough one of said conduits and up through the other conduit back to the surface of the earth.

(References on following page) 3 4% References Cited by the Examiner 2,932,170 4/60 Patterson et a1.

UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,961,840 11/60 GO'ldtl'flP 62-45 OTHER REFERENCES X 5 Engineering News-Record, paggsr 74-76, May 11, 1939. ggfii l 61 36 EARL J. WITMER, Primary Examiner.

Meade et a1 6136 X WILLIAM I. MUSHAKE, Examiner.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification405/130, 62/260, 165/45, 405/149
International ClassificationE02D19/14, E02D19/00, F17C3/00, E02D3/115, E21D1/00, E02D3/00, E21D1/12
Cooperative ClassificationE21D1/12, F17C3/005, E02D19/14, E02D3/115
European ClassificationF17C3/00B, E02D19/14, E02D3/115, E21D1/12