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mrsocko





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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:12 pm    Post subject: Can Science Save the Oil Sands Reply with quote

http://www.theglobeandmail.com.....y/Business

Falling oil prices and bad PR have hammered the oil sands. Out of all that bad news may rise a new era in innovation

Quote:
FORT McMURRAY, ALTA. — If Selma Guigard is right, an elusive key to reducing the oil sands' emissions could lie in the science of the super-critical molecule.

When they are subjected to a certain high temperature and pressure, substances like carbon dioxide enter a state where they are neither liquid nor gas — the super-critical state. When mixed with several other compounds, super-critical carbon dioxide is able to extract hydrocarbons from almost anything, in a process somewhat like the way some dry cleaners work.

Dr. Guigard, an associate professor of environmental engineering at the University of Alberta, is trying to prove it can do the same for the Athabasca oil sands. This is not a mere science experiment: Lab modelling has shown that her process uses virtually no water, and less than a third of the energy spent today on bitumen extraction.

That makes it not only a potentially huge step up from an environmental point of view, it could also help redraw the economics of the oil sands.

Dr. Selma Guigard, an engineering professor at the University of Alberta, has developed a method for extracting bitumen from the oil sands that uses almost no water and far less energy. (John Ulan/For The Globe and Mail)

There's only one problem. To prove the technology, Dr. Guigard needs to build a small pilot operation, and that will cost $1-million. She's spent a year banging on the doors of the energy companies that stand to gain the most from what she is developing.

They have all declined.

"The response is basically they're looking at this as still in its infancy, and so they are waiting for a little bit more research," she said.

That puts Dr. Guigard in a bind: "They want us to be further along than we can get with the funding sources that we currently have."

Talk to anyone in Calgary or Fort McMurray, and they will tell you that the story of the oil sands has been the story of technology. Were it not for the original hot-water extraction method, mining would never have become profitable decades ago. Were it not for the next step, the steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) techniques developed in the 1970s that use high-pressure steam to send bitumen dripping out, the more-expansive deeper oil sands would never have been tapped......


Small companies are developing technology that will make the oils sands much cleaner. Using technology to combat Global Warming should be a CPC clarion call. If this works we may have to spend only millions not billions to fight Global Warming fanaticism. 4 pages and many more technologies than just this one. Great read
FF_Canuck





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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those are some pretty interesting technologies. They sound good, but I'd like to see some hard numbers on actual energy savings - I couldn't care less about how much CO2 the processes generate.
don muntean





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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The water-based extraction process uses enormous water inputs requiring between two and four barrels of water for each barrel of oil produced. The oil sands industry also uses large quantities of energy and produces massive amounts of waste water known as “tailings.” Already two toxic tailings dumps from Canadian oil sands mines are said to be visible from space with the naked eye. There has to be a better way.
Mac





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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back in the 80s, I recall reading an article about a scientist who devised a method using moderate heat and bacteria to break up the bitumen but since it required more-or-less constant monitoring and took a bit of time, the oil companies weren't interested.

-Mac
Charles J. White





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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The energy sector, something which I know very well, does not need any saving. What kind of jack @ss thinks the Energy Sector needs to be saved from itself?
kwlafayette





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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

don muntean wrote:
The water-based extraction process uses enormous water inputs requiring between two and four barrels of water for each barrel of oil produced. The oil sands industry also uses large quantities of energy and produces massive amounts of waste water known as “tailings.” Already two toxic tailings dumps from Canadian oil sands mines are said to be visible from space with the naked eye. There has to be a better way.
I see that you read Jack Layton's press releases. But how about some real verifiable facts?
kwlafayette





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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another thing that always surprises me; do people honestly believe, that oil companies do not know that they could make more money with a cheaper process? Do you not think that oil companies could already be 3 years ahead of you on this? Do you seriously think, that you have heard about something that is completely unknown to the executives of billion dollar energy companies? Because that is what this conversation sounds like to me.
mrsocko





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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Another thing that always surprises me; do people honestly believe, that oil companies do not know that they could make more money with a cheaper process? Do you not think that oil companies could already be 3 years ahead of you on this? Do you seriously think, that you have heard about something that is completely unknown to the executives of billion dollar energy companies? Because that is what this conversation sounds like to me.


Yes!

You have of course seen the movie about paradigm shifts. You know the one where the the Swiss inventor brings the LCD watch to the Swiss watch companies and ties to get them to invest. They reject him, he sells to the Japanese and 10 years later all but 2 of the Swiss watch companies are bankrupt.

It would not surpise me if the executives of the oil companies are ignoring new technology. It happens all the time. Companies get set in their ways and don't improve processes. If you read further in the article it mentions how abysmal the R&D investment is by these compamies.
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Can Science Save the Oil Sands

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