Development of treatment train based on green technologies for removal and recovery of naphthenic acids from oil-sand process affected wastewater

Conference Dates

June 19-24, 2016


Each day large volumes of oil sands process-affected water (OSPW) are being produced during the extraction of bitumen in oil sands industry in northern Alberta. OSPW contains different polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), bitumen, as well as naphthenic acids (NAs), which not only are the major source of toxicity in OSPW, but also create operational problems such as corrosion of the equipment during bitumen recovery process. A recent figure indicates that about 720 billion liters of OSPW that were produced during the extraction of bitumen from Canadian oil sands industry have been stored in tailing ponds that cover approximately 170 km2. Water treatment and management strategies are urgently needed for OSPW recycling in order to reduce the withdrawal of fresh water from the Athabasca River and to permit the safe release of treated OSPW to the receiving environment by removing these compounds. OSPW is highly saline water with myriad of organic and inorganic constituents, including metals, anions, organic compounds, and suspended particles.

Among all the different treatment methods, adsorption has gained significant attention due to its efficiency and fast removal rates. Recent studies on petroleum coke (PC), a relatively inexpensive and abundant feedstock, used as an adsorbent after activation, have brought renewed attention to the use of adsorption processes for OSPW treatment. The coagulation/flocculation (CF) process is widely used as a pre-treatment to other processes including adsorption. Besides adsorption, desorption of exhausted adsorbents is crucial to naphthenic acids recovery due to various industrial applications. The unique properties of the metallic soaps of naphthenic acids account for the major uses of the acid. The salts of naphthenic acids (alkali naphthenates) are applied as both emulsifying and demulsifying agents. The metallic naphthenates have also found industrial application in the fields of preservatives and driers. Copper and zinc naphthenates are effective insecticides and fungicides, and solutions of these salts in petroleum solvents are available commercially.

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