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On the Separation and Composition of Liquid Crystals in Athabasca Bitumen Open Access


Other title
Liquid Crystals
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Wang, Kejie
Supervisor and department
Shaw, John (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Thundat, Thomas (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
McCaffrey, William (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Shaw, John (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering
Chemical Engineering
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
Hydrocarbon-based liquid crystal domains have been identified in unreacted heavy fractions of petroleum from Athabasca bitumen and other hydrocarbon resources worldwide. These liquid crystal domains have also been shown to transfer from the hydrocarbon-rich phase to the water-rich phase during SAGD production, and primary separation of mined bitumen where their composition is enriched relative to bitumen and inorganic constituents. In this work, liquid crystal rich material was further isolated from SAGD produced water that also contains dispersed drops of bitumen rich material mineral matter and clay among its constituents. The physical and chemical isolation methods are described and the outcomes are validated using cross-polarized light microscopy and chemical analysis, including: elemental analysis and Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) using a negative-ion Electrospray Ionization (ESI) source (heteroatom class distributions, detailed DBE and O/C ratio). From the elemental and other analyses, the liquid crystal rich material is shown to include humic substances (humic acid, fulvic acid, humin) among the principal components as these are the only categories of species known to be present that have high enough oxygen contents to meet the mass balance constraint imposed by the elemental analysis. Naphthenic acids and other potential candidate species do not have high enough oxygen contents comprise a significant mass fraction of the constituents.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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