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A conceptual approach to subterranean oil sand fragmentation and slurry transport Open Access


Other title
oil sand
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Lam, S.C. Anthony
Supervisor and department
Nobes, David (Mechanical Engineering)
Lipsett, Michael (Mechanical Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Joseph, Tim (Mining Engineering)
Kumar, Amit (Mechanical Engineering)
Department of Mechanical Engineering

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
Oil sand deposits are found at three depths; shallow, intermediate, and deep. Shallow deposits are processed by surface mining while deep deposits are processed using thermal extraction methods. There are currently no production methods to extract oil sand at intermediate depths. The motivation for this research is to demonstrate the technical applicability of methods to access oil sand that is too shallow for thermal extraction methods and too deep for economical surface mining. This work consisted of developing a system concept as a method for accessing, fragmenting, and removing oil sand at intermediate depths. A technical analysis and a cost estimate were also performed. In addition, the applicability of a comparative methodology was demonstrated with case studies. A key gap in the understanding of how to implement the system concept is tooling design and power requirements for fragmenting oil sand and interburden; and so a set of laboratory experiments was conducted to investigate the power required to cut oil sand. Oil sand blocks were formed from oil sand samples for the experiments. These blocks underwent various tests to examine their characteristics. Tests included: shear testing, extraction testing, porosity measurements, and scanning electron microscopy. Lab-scale experiments were conducted in dry, wet, and frozen conditions in support of the fragmentation aspect of the system concept. Thermal imaging was used to qualitatively view temperature variation during the testing process and cutter wear was viewed using a digital microscope. Results were compared against a steady-state cutting model with recommendations for future work.
License granted by Anthony Lam ( on 2010-07-22T18:06:29Z (GMT): 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. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein 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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