The technology has a number of advantages over conventional (water based) or solvent based technologies. These include:
- The process is environmentally sound and cost effective (estimated extraction costs for a large-scale oil sands operation are less than $6/barrel). There is no waste water and no tailings ponds.
- The technology can be applied to a wide range of materials – oil sands, oily sludge and both wet and dry contaminated sand and soil. In other words, the technology can not only be applied to the extraction of oil from “virgin” oil sands, it can also be used to clean-up waste materials from other processes including manufacturing processes.
- It is conceptually and operationally simple, relying on standard mixing and separation technologies.
- The extraction steps are at ambient temperatures, limiting energy costs.
- Extracted sand and recovered oil or bitumen is obtained in a very clean form.
- The ILs used are relatively inexpensive, non-hazardous and are available in megaton quantities.
- Any IL left on the extracted sand as an operational choice would be beneficial to plant life and would facilitate natural recovery.
- Water and naphtha are both used as processing aids and both are recovered and recycled through a closed system.
- Refinery solvent (naphtha) can be used as a diluent and both the recovered oil and solvent returned to the refinery for processing.
TAILINGS AND DEWATERING TECHNOLOGY
Various mining and extraction processes produce a tailings stream consisting of a slurry of particulate matter in water. These tailings often contain components that are hazardous and cannot be discharged directly into rivers and streams. A common practice is to store tailings in ponds, which can be very large or encompass numerous sites. For example, it has recently been estimated that Canadian oil-sands tailings ponds cover an area of about 200 square kilometers. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency has identified more than 500 ash and coal slurry ponds, mostly in the Appalachian coal mining region. In Florida, phosphate mining results in the production of approximately 100,000 tons a day of phosphatic clays in the form of a slurry that is also stored in ponds. It is very difficult to dewater and the phosphate industry leaves about 40% of mined land in unstable clay settling areas. Extrakt Process Solutions has developed a process for dewatering tailings that produces a low water content material that can be used for environmental remediation. One embodiment of the process allows for the recovery of hydrocarbons, although that is not necessary for all applications.
THE EXTRAKT PROCESS
Extrakt Process Solutions has a process to dewater and consolidate tailings. Unlike other methods used so far, this process achieves a solids content of 75% quite easily. Originally, this was achieved through the use of ionic liquids (ILs). A more recent form of the process uses solutions of ILs together with small amounts of an additive. Patent applications for the new process have been filed in the US and Canada and other filings are imminent. A demonstration video is located on our video’s page and for more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org.