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Effect of Salinity on the Warm Water-Based Processing of Mineable Oil Sands Open Access


Other title
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Chen, Tong
Supervisor and department
Zhenghe, Xu (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Rajender, Gupta (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Zhenghe, Xu (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Qingxia, Liu (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Zukui, Li (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering
Chemical Engineering
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
Due to the extensive usage of caustics and increased level of water recycling, the inevitable increase in salinity of recycle process water is a growing challenge in the current water-based bitumen extraction process. The present work concerns about how salinity affects bitumen recovery from various oil sands ores. Laboratory flotation results demonstrate that the decrease in bitumen recovery and froth quality by increasing the salinity of process water at pH 8.5 was ore-dependent. Increasing the salinity of process water caused a dramatic decrease in ore processability for the low-grade processing ores. In contrast, the increase in salinity up to 4000 ppm NaCl concentration in the process water showed a negligible effect on the processability of high-grade processing ores. Interestingly, the use of caustic to increase the pH of process water to 11.2 could not alleviate, but increase, the negative effect of salinity on the processability of low-grade ores. Systematic study was conducted to understand the significant effect of increasing salinity on bitumen recovery from poor processing ores. Using our refined in-situ bitumen liberation flow visualization cell, the salt addition was found to decrease the degree of bitumen liberation (DBL) from low-grade ores. At higher pH, the negative effect of salinity on the DBL was more evident. The zeta potential measurement revealed that the incremental zeta potential of fines and bitumen become less negative as the increase of salt concentration. The result from the induction time measurement also showed that increasing sodium concentration inhibits bitumen and bubble attachment in the presence of fines. The detrimental effect of salinity on bitumen aeration was more profound at higher pH of the process water. The results from this study aided to develop strategies of blending low-grade ore with high-grade ore, to minimize the negative impact of increased recycle water salinity on bitumen extraction.
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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