Intelligent Geo-composites for Treating Oil Sands Tailings

Waste management is a major environmental challenge of recent rapid oil sands development. Residues created by oil sand extraction are made up of 70 to 80 per cent water and are held in tailings ponds that cover more than 180 square kilometres.

Because of their great stability and low hydraulic conductivity, residues consolidate very slowly, posing major environmental challenges.

The Centre d’excellence des technologies textiles, géosynthétiques et matériaux souples (Groupe CTT) affiliated with Cégep de St-Hyacinthe has formed a partnership with Afitex-Texel, a manufacturer of filtering and draining geocomposites, and Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) in an effort to improve environmental performance. The goal of the applied research collaboration is to develop an intelligent geocomposite for accelerating the evaporation of oil sands residues. This new concept combines a filtering geotextile, drainage tubes and electrodes for treatment by electro-osmosis.

The results obtained to date are extremely encouraging. Lab tests show residue volumes reduced by 50 per cent after 45 days. Eight cégep undergraduate and doctorate students have taken part in the research and the results have been published in the scientific journal Revue canadienne de géotechnique, with several presentations also made at national and international conferences. The team is now preparing trials at oil sands sites.

“AFITEX-TEXEL is pleased to be doing business with Groupe CTT,” says Pascal Saunier, Business Afitex-Texel Development Manager for North America. “The R&D project with NSERC and COSIA, the respect of deadlines, the technical achievements and the overall project leadership and management are all aspects that inspire our confidence and satisfaction.”

Industry: Environmental
Partner(s): AFITEX-TEXEL

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