A conceptual approach to subterranean oil sand fragmentation and slurry transport

  • Author / Creator
    Lam, S.C. Anthony
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2010
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.