Development of supported solid nanoparticles and process for hydrocarbon recovery and enhancing water recyclability from SAGD wastewater
Publication Type
Conference Paper

Alberta's oil sands resource is estimated to contain as much as 1.7 trillion barrels of bitumen. Actually, the reserves are estimated to hold 170 billion barrels of recoverable bitumen, which would be enough to produce 3 million barrels per day for over 150 years. These oil sands are composed of bitumen (12 wt%), sands, silts, clays (mineral content 85 wt %) and water (3-6 wt%). The clay component is comprised of mainly kaolinite (50-60%) and illite (30-50%) with some montmorillonite. Steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) is commonly practiced in-situ recovery technology in Alberta. However, in the current context, Alberta's oil sands upgrading and recovery processes have proven to be environmentally unfriendly. Accordingly, innovative techniques for SAGD wastewater treatment are needed. In practical application, industrial wastewater is typically treated in conventional wastewater treatment processes, which may include a number of physical, chemical and biological treatment processes. However, these processes aim at recycling treated wastewater without recovering any hydrocarbons. Worth also mentioning here that continual recycle of treated wastewater to the extraction plant can lead to a buildup of dissolved ions within the recycle water. Elevated ion concentrations can cause operational issues including poor extraction recovery and scaling or fouling of piping and equipment. In recent years, nanotechnology, in the form of virgin nanoparticles (NPs) or NP integrated with conventional processes, has shown promising performance in pollution removal and toxicity mitigation. Therefore, what we are proposing here is a complete process targeting not only enhancing water recyclability, but also recovering the hydrocarbon waste from SAGD wastewater. Hence, we first look into optimizing the oxy-cracking conditions for separating the organics from clay and sand present in the SAGD wastewater. The goal is to solubilize all hydrocarbons in the water phase, after that, the solubilized hydrocarbons will be selectively adsorbed onto a solid in-house prepared silicates based NPs impregnated with metal oxide NPs, and subsequently, upgraded via steam gasification process into synthetic gas product. This work is conducted for the first time on real SAGD wastewater samples. The preliminary results emphasized the validity of such process. This believes to help Alberta’s community in the development of hydrocarbon waste utilization process.

Conference Title
2015 AIChE Annual Meeting (ISBN: 978-0-8169-1094-6)
Conference Country
United States of America
Conference Date
Nov. 8, 2015 - Nov. 13, 2015
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