Development of a Novel Engineered Bioprocess for Oil Sands Process-Affected Water and Tailings Fines/Bitumen/Water Separation

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  • The oil sands bitumen extraction process results in the creation of waste products including oil sands process-affected water (OSPW) and mature fine tailings (MFT). Many technologies are currently under investigation to treat these waste products that are currently contained in vast storage ponds. Biodegradation is a promising treatment method, however, the current biodegradation rates for indigenous bacteria in storage ponds are very slow and need to be enhanced for this process to be considered viable. The BioTigerTM consortium has been successfully used for the treatment of oil contaminated soils making it a potentially useful bacterial assemblage for the treatment of both OSPW and MFT. In this study, BioTigerTM was not successful for treatment of OSPW after 24 h experiments at 8, 22 and 35 °C. Results for toxicity to V. fischeri were inconclusive, while there was no reduction in either the acid extractable fraction (AEF) or the naphthenic acid (NA) contents. The MFT experiments have not commenced as of yet due to the unavailability of some samples. These experiments will start in January 2015 and run for approximately four months. It is expected that the longer duration will allow the BioTigerTM to biodegrade organics in the MFT. Although the current OSPW experiments did not produce anticipated results, further research is planned to better assess the ability of BioTigerTM to degrade OSPW organics. These experiments will include longer experimental durations, higher initial bacterial concentrations and/or amendment with easily degradable organics. These new conditions should aid the consortium to better acclimate to, and degrade, recalcitrant OSPW organics.

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    Attribution 3.0 International