Halliburton Drill Bit Waste Recycled to Create New Products

Halliburton, a leading oil and gas services company, manufactures drill bits that are deployed across 61 countries. A key part of our mission is to continuously reduce the environmental impact in our drill bit manufacturing plant located in Conroe, Texas. Halliburton achieves this through its recycling program by focusing on minimizing the environmental footprint during the manufacturing process.

Drill bits are cutting tools designed to carve holes in the earth to create a wellbore for oil and gas production. Currently, we recycle more than 95 percent of waste at our manufacturing plant. This includes waste resulting from the drill bits manufacturing process.

Recycling of used or spent products provides several benefits: It reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills, reduces costs associated with waste disposal, prevents pollution by reducing the need for new raw materials and provides material to other industries that in turn make new products from their recycled waste.

Among the various raw materials needed to manufacture drill bits are graphite, steel and carbide. During the manufacturing process, waste of all three is generated in the form of graphite chunks and powder, steel turnings and tungsten carbide powder and inserts.

Figure 1: Graphite chunks (Credit: Halliburton)


Graphite is used to create the mold in the beginning stages of the drill bit production. After the bit is infiltrated and formed, the breakout process eliminates the excess graphite. The graphite chunks and powder generated are sent to various recycling companies. The uncontaminated graphite is recycled with a third-party company that will reprocess and sell the graphite as a value-added product to various industries.

Graphite that was contaminated is recycled to make base material for paving roads and can be used in the rubber tire industry. In 2017, Halliburton recycled approximately 2,891,217 pounds of graphite chunks and powder.

Steel Turnings

Figure 2: Steel turnings (Credit: Halliburton)

Steel turnings are produced during the lathe and milling operations for a variety of different drill bits. The steel turnings are sent to scrap metal facilities that recycle the material by melting it down to form steel ingots (metal blocks) that will be used in a variety of industries. In 2017, Halliburton recycled approximately 537,368 pounds of steel turnings. 

Tungsten Carbide

Excess tungsten carbide powder, generated during the mold loading process and used from the machining and milling operations, is also collected as recyclable material. The powder is sent to a company that recycles it into other carbide tools for oil and gas businesses and non-oil and gas applications. In 2017, Halliburton recycled approximately 3,790 pounds of carbide powder and inserts.

Figure 3: A Halliburton employee loading carbide powder into a graphite mold to make a drill bit

Halliburton strives to continuously improve our work in environmental responsibility. Our long-term success is dependent on providing superior products, technology and services, as well as our environmental performance across our global footprint and the effective stewardship of natural resources.

Figure 4: Tungsten carbide powder

Halliburton is listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, a family of indices tracking the performance of the largest companies in the S&P Global Broad Market Index that lead the field in terms of sustainability.

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