Extrakt Process Solutions LLC is a technology company. Extrakt Process Solutions has exclusive rights to and ownership of patented processes* that use ionic liquids (ILs), their analogues and solutions to separate oil or bitumen from minerals. The technology can also be used to consolidate and dewater fine mineral suspension (e.g., tailings) and recover valuable mineral and hydrocarbon resources. Laboratory work on a range of
materials from a variety of sources together with scale-up work on small pilot plants has validated the process. Extrakt is presently working with a number of large companies to bring the technology to market.
* US 8603326; US 8603327; CA 2764578; CA 2761201. New patent applications were also filed in 2016 describing processes based on inexpensive ionic solutions.
Extrakt Process Solutions has an exclusive license for an environmentally sound, innovative, and low-risk technology for separating hydrocarbons from minerals through the use of ionic liquids (ILs) and their analogues. The process is conceptually simple and works well because of three factors:
- The strong force of attraction between the ions in ionic liquids and mineral surfaces. It has been shown (using atomic forces microscopy) that adhesive forces between silica and bitumen are an order of magnitude smaller in an IL medium than in water, allowing easy detachment under low shear.
- The ILs employed in the process are completely immiscible with hydrocarbons such as bitumen or oil. Coupled with a large density difference, this results in a sharp phase separation of hydrocarbons from the ionic liquid. ILs do not act as a solvent, but a separating fluid, keeping the oil (or naphtha diluted bitumen) and extracted sand apart.
- The negligible vapor pressure of ILs allows water, used to wash residual IL from the sand, to be easily separated from the IL using vacuum distillation. Both are recirculated in a closed system. There is no waste water stream and no tailings ponds.
The process has been validated for a wide range of samples, including:
- Oil sands from Alberta, Utah, Kentucky, California, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- Contaminated sand and soil from the oil lakes in Kuwait.
- Sludge from refinery operations in Kuwait.
- Sludge from oil sands operations in Canada.
- Oil coated iron oxide particles from steel mill operations.
- Contaminated sand obtained from a beach in Alabama after the Deepwater Horizon spill.