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Effect of Residual Bitumen on Polymer-assisted Flocculation of Fluid Fine Tailings Open Access


Other title
mature fine tailings
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Klein, Colin G
Supervisor and department
Xu, Zhenghe (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Sanders, Sean (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Gupta, Rajender (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Xu, Zhenghe (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering
Chemical Engineering
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
In bitumen recovery from oil sands, a percentage of the bitumen is lost to tailings. The effect of fugitive bitumen on fines settling and consolidation in tailings ponds remains controversial. In the current study, the settling performance of mature fine tailings (MFT) in response to flocculant addition was considered by studying MFT of varying bitumen content. Bitumen content in the MFT was adjusted by controlled removal of bitumen using a Denver flotation cell. The initial settling rate of flocculated MFT was observed to increase with decreasing bitumen content from 0.45 to 0.18 wt%. A further reduction in bitumen content was found to dramatically decrease the settling rate of flocculated MFT. Such behaviour seems counterintuitive since the polymer flocculant was found to have a low affinity for bitumen contaminated surfaces, as measured by quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCM‐D), which would predict a further increase in settling rate of flocculated MFT with decreasing bitumen content. Reasons for this behavior were investigated and it was observed that the decrease in settling rate coincided with long periods of intense mixing in the Denver cell. The underlying reason for this behavior is the subject of ongoing investigation. The current study confirms the use of flotation as a viable option to control MFT bitumen content and improve the settling rate of flocculated MFT.
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 these terms. 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.
Citation for previous publication
C. Klein, D. Harbottle, L. Alagha, Z. Xu, "Impact of Fugitive Bitumen on Polymer‐Based Flocculation of Mature Fine Tailings," Can. J. Chem. Eng., 2013, 91, 1427-1432

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