Technology will redefine the oilsands

The Alberta oil sands has been the target of heavey criticism for it’s pollution and excessive energy requirements. New technology will give the sands a facelift. Significant use of natural gas and water will become a thing of the past. Here are some of the possible solutions:
  1. “If Selma Guigard is right, an elusive key to reducing the oil sands’ emissions could lie in the science of the super-critical molecule.When they are subjected to a certain high temperature and pressure, substances like carbon dioxide enter a state where they are neither liquid nor gas – the super-critical state. When mixed with several other compounds, super-critical carbon dioxide is able to extract hydrocarbons from almost anything, in a process somewhat like the way some dry cleaners work.

    Dr. Guigard, an associate professor of environmental engineering at the University of Alberta, is trying to prove it can do the same for the Athabasca oil sands. This is not a mere science experiment: Lab modelling has shown that her process uses virtually no water, and less than a third of the energy spent today on bitumen extraction.

    That makes it not only a potentially huge step up from an environmental point of view, it could also help redraw the economics of the oil sands.”

  2. “Electro-thermal (E-T)             Wells containing a series of electrodes are placed around a collector well. Electricity is sent between the electrodes, passing through the bitumen, which heats up like food in a microwave. It then flows into the collector well, and is brought to surface.”  http://nextbigfuture.com/2009/04/electro-thermal-dynamic-stripping-oil.html for more information….March 2012 update:”
  3. “Underground combustion (Petrobank)

    Air is injected into the oil sands. When oxygen makes contact with the bitumen, it sparks a process of spontaneous combustion, like what happens in a diesel engine. That burns about 10 per cent of the bitumen, but heats the reservoir to an extremely high temperature, causing the remainder to flow into a horizontal collection well.”  (Petrobank is currently producing oil by this method.)

  4. “Cold solvents (Laricina)

    Like SAGD, but solvents such as propane and butane are used instead of boiled water. The solvents are injected into the reservoir, reducing the viscosity of the bitumen and allowing it to flow well enough that it can be brought to surface.”

Source:ReportonBusiness.com, “CAN SCIENCE SAVE THE OIL SANDS” April 25,2009                                                                      

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