New process cleanly extracts oil from tar sands and fouled beaches

Mar 18, 2011
New process cleanly extracts oil from tar sands and fouled beaches

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new, more environmentally friendly method of separating oil from tar sands has been developed by a team of researchers at Penn State. This method, which utilizes ionic liquids to separate the heavy viscous oil from sand, also is capable of cleaning oil spills from beaches and separating oil from drill cuttings, the solid particles that must be removed from drilling fluids in oil and gas wells.

Tar sands, also known as bituminous sands or , represent approximately two-thirds of the world’s estimated reserves. Canada is the world’s major producer of unconventional petroleum from sands, and the U.S. imports more than 1 million barrels of oil per day from Canada, about twice as much as from Saudi Arabia. Much of this oil is produced from the Alberta tar sands.

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However, the production of petroleum from tar sands causes environmental damage. Part of the damage comes from the storage of contaminated wastewater from the separation process in large open air ponds. Wastewater from the ponds can seep into groundwater and pollute lakes and rivers. In addition, the requirement for large amounts of water can deplete the supply of local fresh water resources. The Penn State separation method uses very little energy and water, and all solvents are recycled and reused.

Paul Painter, professor of polymer science in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State, and his group have spent the past 18 months developing a technique that uses ionic liquids (salt in a liquid state) to facilitate separation. The separation takes place at room temperature without the generation of waste process water.

“Essentially, all of the bitumen is recovered in a very clean form, without any contamination from the ionic liquids,” Painter explained. Because the bitumen, solvents and sand/clay mixture separate into three distinct phases, each can be removed separately and the solvent can be reused.

The process can also be used to extract oil and tar from beach sand after oil spills, such as the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon incidents. Unlike other methods of cleanup, the Penn State process completely removes the hydrocarbons, and the cleaned sand can be returned to the beach instead of being sent to landfills. In an experiment using sand polluted by the BP oil spill, the team was able to separate hydrocarbons from the sand within seconds. A small amount of water was used to clean the remaining ionic liquids from the sand, but that water was also recoverable. “It was so clean you could toss it back on the beach. Plus, the only extra energy you need is enough to stir the mixture,” said Aron Lupinsky, a researcher in Painter’s group.

The researchers work with a group of based on 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium cations, a positively charged material with high chemical and thermal stability, a low degree of flammability, and almost negligible vapor pressure, which makes recovering the ionic liquid relatively simple. The team has built a functioning bench top model system and is in the process of reducing their discovery to practice for patenting.

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fmfbrestel
4 / 5 (4) Mar 18, 2011
If the reality is anywhere as effective as the press release, this could do a lot of good for spill zones and the areas surrounding the tar sands.
apex01
5 / 5 (4) Mar 18, 2011
So how many dollars per barrel would Alberta profit from this new extraction technique?
fmfbrestel
5 / 5 (5) Mar 18, 2011
It should be significant, because the standard procedure with water involves boiling it and using the vapor -- a VERY energy intensive procedure.
mrlewish
1.3 / 5 (13) Mar 18, 2011
In the end this will damage the environment more than help it. The intent of this is not to help clean up beaches but to take usable oil from tar sands.
fmfbrestel
4.6 / 5 (7) Mar 18, 2011
We are taking that oil now, except that right now we have huge waste ponds that are contaminating the ground water. But yes, it will facilitate tar sand mining. I wonder if this process could be applied to the problem of extracting oil from the tar shales in Colorado?
jscroft
3 / 5 (13) Mar 18, 2011
This is SPECTACULAR!!! So much for Peak Oil... it's as if Alberta suddenly discovered an ocean of bitumenous crude in their backyard, and all they need to bring it to the refinery is a fleet of tanker trucks and a giant spoon.

The AGW Leftists are going to go absolutely bonkers over this. Anybody want to bet me $20 that in the next ten minutes somebody announces that polar bears are allergic to ionic liquids?
jscroft
3.5 / 5 (11) Mar 18, 2011
Holy cow, mrlewish beat me to the punch while I was typing. Is there ANY good news for humanity that doesn't make you guys miserable?
Squeezle42
5 / 5 (3) Mar 18, 2011
Well, living in Alberta, at least this will bring the Newfies out, love that accent :p
Bonkers
not rated yet Mar 18, 2011
Oi, careful who you're calling bonkers.

is 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium toxic?

sounds like an excellent technology.
sstritt
1 / 5 (2) Mar 18, 2011
Just in time, as I suspect that nuclear is going to have a rough road ahead.
jscroft
3.7 / 5 (10) Mar 18, 2011
@Bonkers: Ok that was funny. :)

Fair question... who CARES if 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium is toxic? The REAL question to ask is: are the traces of it that remain on the sand after the process is complete MORE toxic than the bitumen that was there in the first place?
eachus
3.6 / 5 (5) Mar 18, 2011
First, yes this process will be great news for Alberta, if anyone pays attention. Even if it were not less expensive than the current process, it makes "closing the loop" possible. (100% of waste recycled as part of the process.)

Second, how long will it take to engineer this for "downhole" recovery, and how much unreachable oil in existing wells can now be produced at reasonable cost? Separating oil from tar sands and other rock formations in situ will probably dwarf its use with mineable tar sands.

I don't know if this process can be extended to hydrofractured shale, but if so, expect Colorado's oil production to surpass Saudi Arabia's output within a decade. (Idiot federal regulators and Congress willing of course.)
jimbo92107
5 / 5 (3) Mar 18, 2011
What else can be done with these ionic liquids? I wonder if some variation of this chemical formula would also help separate different weights of petroleum oil from each other. That would revolutionize the oil refining process, which today is very energy intensive.
GSwift7
3.8 / 5 (9) Mar 18, 2011
is 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium toxic?


look up the wiki page on ionic liquid. In short, yes they are toxic, but understand that there are many types used in many places already. Odds are that you have some within a few feet of you most of the time. The electrolyte fluid in a batter is an example of a liquid salt. Similar to this story, there are people looking into using the same basic idea in processing of wood pulp for paper. Apparently, you still have to watch out for ground water contamination if you use this stuff, though it is surely an improvement over the way they are doing it now. Someone asked about flamability too. Most are not flamable, but some are. Don't forget that you're dealing with oil, so flamability really shouldn't matter all that much, should it? As for tixicity; As JSCroft said, oil is about as toxic as you can get already, so what's the big deal? Think of it as making the sand less toxic and have a beer.
ennui27
5 / 5 (3) Mar 18, 2011
It should be significant, because the standard procedure with water involves boiling it and using the vapor -- a VERY energy intensive procedure.


The process used in the tar sands extraction plants is called a "warm water" method ... no boiling.
Some accountant would have to look see how much using this stuff costs - but after spending 20 years in the tar sands I know that the beautiful white sands that result for the extraction plants plants actually contains 15% more oil!

There is lies a strong motivation to use this new chemical extraction method.
Parsec
2.1 / 5 (7) Mar 18, 2011
Holy cow, mrlewish beat me to the punch while I was typing. Is there ANY good news for humanity that doesn't make you guys miserable?

You live in a very strange reality. It is fortunately for you self-confirming so you get to skip any validation steps, or you would have the sad spectacle of watching your world view destroyed.
dnatwork
3.1 / 5 (8) Mar 18, 2011
Let's say you do manage to extract and burn every ounce of hydrocarbons from the crust of the Earth. Are some of you really saying that absolutely nothing should be done about the carbon dioxide that would release into the atmosphere and ocean?

All that carbon could be put to productive use (i.e., producing profit for rampant capitalists), if nothing else. Nanotechnology is just another word for high profit margins. You just need a good way to extract the carbon from the exhaust of your power plants and SUVs.

Those of you who go on knee-jerk tirades against environmentalists really should listen to yourselves. Assume (as you do) that the environmentalists are completely wrong. You still sound like raving kooks. You start jumping up and down and waving your arms at the drop of a hat.

You do realize there are environmental costs for everything you do, right? You can disagree about the amount of damage, but you can't just stripmine the planet and expect to have no consequences.
apex01
3.6 / 5 (5) Mar 18, 2011
"You still sound like raving kooks" by who's standards i wonder? Dnatwork, you do realize there are economic supply and demand issues with every thin YOU DO(and by YOU i mean environmentalists or maybe i'm just generalizing like someone else). Do you think 18 wheeler semi-trucks can run on solar power electricity and somehow meet demand in a timely manner? Not with current technology. So where do you think the economic growth, tax revenue, and the funds are going to come from to develop cost effective "nanotechnology" so "rampant capitalists" can produce something from it? One word: OIL.
PinkElephant
3.3 / 5 (9) Mar 18, 2011
This is SPECTACULAR!!! So much for Peak Oil...
Peak Oil is not about quantity. It is about rate of production vs. consumption, at a given price point. Since rate of consumption continues to grow exponentially, whereas rate of global production stagnates (due to increasingly depleted oil fields), Peak Oil is still on course. Tar sand oil isn't going to solve the problem, as it's quite slow and expensive to produce (when compared to oil that just gushes out of the ground.)

At some point, oil will become expensive enough that all sorts of exotic extraction methods will become economically justifiable. However, at that price point will oil be any longer an attractive fuel?
The AGW Leftists are going to go absolutely bonkers over this.
Never ceases to amuse me: self-styled "conservatives" pooh-pooing the very notion of conservation, while giddily playing ecological Russian Roulette with the entire planet they happen to inhabit. You people are insane. Clinically.
beelize54
1 / 5 (5) Mar 18, 2011
You people are insane. Clinically.
I'd rather say, they're normal idiots. We can just wait for another oil price crisis like sheeps.
eachus
3.5 / 5 (4) Mar 19, 2011
Peak Oil is not about quantity. It is about rate of production vs. consumption, at a given price point.[/q}

No, as the name implies it says that some year oil production (in barrels) will reach a peak and then start declining. There is a really nice video that explains why most of the discussion here (on both sides) is irrelevant to global warming: http://www.youtub...=related

If you actually watch and pay attention, I can add one piece of good news as a statistician. Models which assume that increasing CO2 levels do not affect cloud cover are wrong. On the other hand, there are no good models of how CO2 affects cloud cover...

You also may have seen me say here that I think that increasing CO2 levels are harmful to humans, independent of global warning. (Can using "cheap" coal or natural gas to desalinate and relocate water to increase plant growth enough to decrease CO2 levels significantly? Yes. But it won't be cheap.)
unknownorgin
2.5 / 5 (8) Mar 19, 2011
This is solvent extraction, it is used for cleaning oily parts and making decafinated coffee ect. The solvent costs money so they will recover it to reuse over and over. The coments about CO2 and global warming doom that are repeated all over the internet do not have any basis in real fact or observation and the people repeating this stuff have no idea how the carbon cycle works or the history of the planet or the role the sun plays because if they did they would laugh at this nonsense. Oil is here to stay because every time a large scale renewable energy project is proposed the NIBY /save the planet crowd stops it cold in the courts.

Newbeak
2.3 / 5 (4) Mar 19, 2011
"Do you think 18 wheeler semi-trucks can run on solar power electricity and somehow meet demand in a timely manner?" Maybe they can: http://www.solarr...ain.html
PinkElephant
3.7 / 5 (6) Mar 19, 2011
@eachus,

Thanks for the video link; perhaps someone on here might learn something from it. But to me, there was nothing new there.

Regarding clouds, the argument to me appears spurious. Greater moisture in the air can only be a result of increased air temperatures. To argue, then, that because of greater absolute humidity there would be changes in cloud cover that would cool the air, is an exercise in paradoxical thinking: in other words, there can't be any changes in cloud cover without the air having already warmed up to begin with, and without warmer air there can be no sustained changes in cloud cover. So at best, cloud feedback might reduce the degree of warming, but could never arrest the warming altogether. But even that hope is faint, and fading. For instance, there have been recent studies that indicate a mildly positive cloud feedback:

www.physorg.com/n...418.html

www.physorg.com/n...ack.html
Caliban
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 19, 2011
You people are insane. Clinically.
I'd rather say, they're normal idiots. We can just wait for another oil price crisis like sheeps.


And there are many people- maybe even one or two here on physorg, that will welcome, and in fact -do all they can to hasten- the approach of "peak oil" and ever-increasing fuel prices, because there is a boatload of no-cost(for them) profit to be made speculating in NG/Coal/Oil futures in the commodities market.

I say no-cost to them because -you guessed it- more than likely, their vehicle and fuel costs are already paid for as an expense by their employer.

Short of literal poisoning by environmental toxins, or choking on polluted air, these people don't see any reason at all why there should be any end to the pursuit of fossil fuel exploitation, regardless of effects upon the rest of the people in the world, and so, this same thinking is endemic in the circles of business and government responsible for policy.
contd
Caliban
1 / 5 (4) Mar 19, 2011
contd.

This is why there is so little real effort or funding to find the holy grail technology consisting of a free(or nearly so)/massively abundant-infinite/renewable/non-polluting/scalable energy source. These vampires are so locked into the for-profit model, that they are incapable of understanding what free energy would mean in terms of opportunity in the world, and so they stick to their control-and-exploit model, since it requires less effort on their part that way to rake in the cash, in a good old-fashioned game of Shooting Fish In A Barrel.

PinkElephant
3.1 / 5 (7) Mar 19, 2011
@Caliban,

I don't buy into the global conspiracy. No more so do I buy into the evil conspiracy of the fossil fuel barons, than I buy into the evil conspiracy of the global warming advocates. Yes, there's considerable money and political effort being expended by self-interested (and eminently egotistical) fossil energy proponents; however it is not within their power to halt or impede any R&D into alternatives.

There is no such thing as "free energy". Energy is the fundamental currency of our universe, it is always limited, and always non-renewable. It can be neither created nor destroyed, but it is subject to thermodynamic conversion from concentrated and useful to dispersed and unusable.

We cannot solve the global warming crisis; it is set on rails and under full steam. The best we can do, is try to mitigate its magnitude. Key to that is counteracting the ideological FUD and BS being spread by moneyed interests. Engaging in conspiracy theories is counter-productive.
Calenur
2 / 5 (4) Mar 20, 2011
I don't think one has to be a conspiracy theorist to believe a corporation would halt/delay the production or research of a technology in order to maximize profits. One need to only look to the tech market to see this is a common-place occurance. For instance, the iPad could have been released with numerous features which were readily available for their first generation product, however the profits aren't in releasing everything at once. You need to be able to space out your product in order to keep yourself relevant.

I have no doubt oil manufacturers are studying alternative energy sources, but as with any good business model, I would surmise it's so they can get the patent, hold onto it until they are close to exhausting their current product, then release it to continue their revenue. That's not conspiracy, that's a good business model.
PinkElephant
4 / 5 (4) Mar 20, 2011
@Calenur,

I don't think you are being realistic. I work in high-tech, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that creating new software or hardware is neither easy nor quick. As a matter of fact, the pace at which Apple and Google have been putting out new product is truly impressive. And in such a cutthroat competitive climate, deliberately withholding new product is tantamount to economic suicide. Time to market is actually the number one priority and concern of any tech company; it is the key to survival, and to expansion of market share.

As for studying alternatives, "oil manufacturers" have no monopoly over such research. Every single university in the world has a department dedicated to alternative energy research. Additionally, there are both established companies and numerous start-ups in the alternative energy business.

Corporate conspiracies aren't the issue; turn your attention to bad politics, and counterproductive government policies and subsidy structures.
Calenur
4 / 5 (2) Mar 20, 2011
It's entirely possible. This certainly isn't my area, I was simply stating it's possible to imagine a scenario where the delay in research/production could be attributed to something other than a conspiracy. In cases like this, it seems more likely to me for there to be a profit driven reason than one of malice.

I'm well aware there is a large amount of research happening in the field of alternative energies. I'm also aware of how much money is required to conduct these studies, money which isn't always available to the university, but would be available to a large corporation.

As for the tech market, I am aware of the struggle many tech companies have with product releases and innovations. Obtuse or not, I find it hard to believe Apple couldn't have released a better product the first time around, with features such as a camera, USB port, etc; The technology was already there. Even with others scrambling to release a similar product, they have a dedicated base of consumers.
soulman
5 / 5 (2) Mar 20, 2011
As a matter of fact, the pace at which Apple and Google have been putting out new product is truly impressive. And in such a cutthroat competitive climate, deliberately withholding new product is tantamount to economic suicide.

That's true for the most part, but there are exceptions when it comes to specific companies. Apple is one such company. The brand has developed a special aura and cache within its market space which allows it to get away with murder sometimes (eg, antennagate) - a luxury their competitors cannot afford. Apple has consistently released unremarkable hardware (in terms of specs and raw numbers) and stuck with closed interfaces, but have managed to win over the market with functional, simple to use devices that shine and sparkle under bright lights. This strategy has allowed them to trickle release updates and upgrades over regular, fixed cycles, eventually catching up with the rest of the market.
Calenur
5 / 5 (1) Mar 20, 2011
Ah, soulman, you beat me to it; I agree with what you said completely. Apple certainly has done well in that respect.

ennui27
5 / 5 (2) Mar 20, 2011
Conspiracies I am not sure of ...but after 25 years in the tar sands I can relate efforts by the big oil companies to stifle any sincere investigation into the environmental effects of their business.

They and the Alberta government (which is but an extension of the oil companies) consciously set up 'environmental organizations' that are designed to return only favourable judgments, they actively attack any one who does independent work, smearing their reputations, they deny any responsibility deleterious effects of their mills and mines and aggressively silence all criticism.

May not be a global conspiracy - but if it walks like a duck .....
PinkElephant
3.3 / 5 (3) Mar 20, 2011
In my work, I am routinely faced with the task of allocating limited resources to implement more features than possible by a given deadline. Having done rough estimates of time and effort required to implement each feature, the next step is to prioritize them in order of business value and/or customer-specified importance, and for the upcoming release cycle select only those features that can be implemented by my team within the time available. In practice, it does not matter if technology is available to theoretically implement everything on the wish list; the key constraints are always time and money. Frequent releases with incremental feature refinement are often the best strategy for business success, as opposed to shooting for the Moon but as a result arriving on the market too late to be of any relevance (because the competitors got there long before you did.) In most cases customers are happy to get even inferior product, as long as they get it ASAP.
PinkElephant
4.5 / 5 (4) Mar 20, 2011
@ennui27,

Yes, there is a lot of money and effort involved in spreading FUD and BS, and avoid responsibility. This has always been so, in practically every single industry, and most certainly in politics generally. But that's not the same thing as somehow (magically) stifling alternative energy R&D the world over.

It's important to confront the liars and obfuscators, and expose them for what they are. It's crucial to impose financial sanctions whenever damage was caused through negligence and/or greed. Companies must not be allowed to get away with externalizing their costs; it's a pernicious form of subsidy that is particularly destructive to the environment and distorting to the economy.

Any given energy production method must fully include its ecological costs in the price of energy. This kind of accounting can only be forced by government regulation; it cannot arise from free markets.

This struggle never ends; it's the eternal vigilance that is the price of freedom.
ennui27
1 / 5 (1) Mar 20, 2011
"In my work, I am routinely faced with the task of allocating limited resources to implement more features than possible by a given deadline. Having done rough estimates of time and effort required to implement each feature, the next step is to prioritize them in order of business value and/or customer-specified importance, and for the upcoming release cycle select only those features that can be implemented by my team within the time available."

Pink - now reverse that. (As in the case of my doctor) Once you have destroyed the accuser's good name, you cannot go ahead and give his ideas credibility. (He was exonerated by the AMA.) This is the case of downstream illnesses caused by the tar sands development.

The priority goes to that which they can successfully deny - these are covered up or solved with surface only considerations. The bucks go into making the place pretty - one plant advert zed they have the only herd of buffalo in northern Alberta - see we care about the world.
GSwift7
2 / 5 (4) Mar 21, 2011
Pink_Elephant said:

@Caliban,

I don't buy into the global conspiracy.


I wholly agree with that post. Purely in accademic terms though, that could beg deeper thought and discussion. The term of conspiracy is really vague. In the sense of comic book villians aiming to enslave the massses (imagine a guy in a mask doing the Muahahahahah laugh), as Caliban seems to suggest, it's absurd. However, if you look at it from the point of view of business people fighting to protect their investments, there is some back room dealing in normal business. Guilds in the middle ages effectively conspired to the benefit of everyone at the time, though their practices may have seemed draconian or conspiratorial to outsiders. Big oil investors do lobby to protect their place at the table. Carbon trading investors work just as hard as big oil to turn a profit on their highly risky and speculative investments, which live or die on the future of carbon laws. There are organized efforts. cont..
GSwift7
2 / 5 (4) Mar 21, 2011
continuted:

There are organized efforts. I wouldn't call it a conspiracy. It's just business in a free market. Competition. Big oil needs to downplay the efforts to get cap and trade going, so they run multi-million dollar PR campaigns to prevent laws that would cost them billions. The cap and trade side does the same thing, only they are looking at it from the point of view of a start-up investment, where they stand to lose everything they have invested so far if they don't get cap and trade going soon. Then there's not-for-profit people like WWF and Greenpeace who sit in the middel and have sometimes confusing agendas because they need financial support from people with sometimes conflicting views. For instance, Greenpeace has historically been anti-nuke (look up their original purpose). Now they are stuck defending nuke power (recent official statements) as the least of many evils. cont...
GSwift7
2.2 / 5 (5) Mar 21, 2011
continued:

As far as Caliban's wild assertions that big oil or big auto would or could somehow suppress new inventions, that's absurd. If some university patents a cheap 80% efficient solar panel, a 1 Watt lightbulb, a 5 Watt air conditioner, etc.. the potential profit from commercialization of such a product is too big to imagine any kind of conspiracy to bury it. If you could somehow prevent American companies from making it, then China would make it in stead. The R&D community today is so teleconnected today that if you come up with something big, it's almost certain that someone else is working on the same thing somewhere else and it's a race to see who can patent first, and once there's a patent there's no secrets because that's public info. Tech news agencies watch the patent records like hungry sharks. If there's a whiff of something tasty they never miss it. Even super-secretive Apple has trouble hiding new stuff from them. Conspiracy? I don't think it's possible today.
jscroft
1.3 / 5 (4) Mar 21, 2011
You live in a very strange reality. It is fortunately for you self-confirming so you get to skip any validation steps, or you would have the sad spectacle of watching your world view destroyed.


<-- Pointing and laughing. Whatever floats your boat, moron.
Caliban
2 / 5 (4) Mar 21, 2011
@PE,GS7

I'm not sure where you found a conspiracy described in my post. I would, however, point out that the simple inertia of an industry's business model, self interest, profit motive, and political activity generally produce an effect that is more or less indistinguishable from conspiracy, even in its absence.

I don't think that conspiracy is entirely lacking, either -just not on the level which you inferred. Certainly price-fixing, distribution fixing and the like do occur.

My point was that the business interests of NG/Coal/Oil, in tandem with the expectations and investments of owners/management/shareholders naturally tend to coincide with the development of an industry status quo that vacuums up most of the ongoing investment/R&D dollars, until or unless there is a breakthrough in some previously unheralded "stepchild" technology.

SteveL
not rated yet Mar 24, 2011
but after spending 20 years in the tar sands I know that the beautiful white sands that result for the extraction plants plants actually contains 15% more oil!

There is lies a strong motivation to use this new chemical extraction method.


Yep! Recovering this missed 15% would be worth billions. There is no way they would squash this discovery. Not when it means more profit, more market share and purportedly a better environmental record.
ennui27
5 / 5 (1) Mar 24, 2011
but after spending 20 years in the tar sands I know that the beautiful white sands that result for the extraction plants plants actually contains 15% more oil!

There is lies a strong motivation to use this new chemical extraction method.


Yep! Recovering this missed 15% would be worth billions. There is no way they would squash this discovery. Not when it means more profit, more market share and purportedly a better environmental record.


I understand that the process has already been rejected by at least one company as not conducive to large scale implimentation. (Did not hear the complete news report - but this was the thrust of it).
GSwift7
1 / 5 (2) Mar 24, 2011
I understand that the process has already been rejected by at least one company as not conducive to large scale implimentation. (Did not hear the complete news report - but this was the thrust of it).


Yep, that's the case with a TON of these new things we so frequently hear about on sites like this one. I almost don't even bother with the technology section any more, since almost everything you read about has some hidden problem they don't mention. It pays to ask questions and think about things like this with an open mind so that you don't miss an important question that wasn't asked or answered. Certain sections of this web site are worse about that than others.

My problem is that it sometimes takes a couple hours of reading external sources to figure out what they aren't telling us. I just don't have time for that.
Newbeak
not rated yet Mar 24, 2011
but after spending 20 years in the tar sands I know that the beautiful white sands that result for the extraction plants plants actually contains 15% more oil!

There is lies a strong motivation to use this new chemical extraction method.


Yep! Recovering this missed 15% would be worth billions. There is no way they would squash this discovery. Not when it means more profit, more market share and purportedly a better environmental record.


I understand that the process has already been rejected by at least one company as not conducive to large scale implimentation. (Did not hear the complete news report - but this was the thrust of it).

Could you post a link to where you heard that one company has rejected the process-I can't find it with google.Thanks
ennui27
not rated yet Mar 24, 2011
@ newbeak

As I mentioned, it was on the radio - the story was about the two researchers in the story at Penn State. I am quite sure the company was Syncrude.

The researchers seemed unphased by the rejection and said they were sort of expecting it.

A google of Penn State and the tar sands gives this:

"Painter said his team was in contact with Syncrude about a year ago, but "they didn't seem all that interested in what we were doing."

Syncrude did not respond to calls for comment."

http://www.montre...ory.html

Newbeak
not rated yet Mar 24, 2011
@ newbeak

As I mentioned, it was on the radio - the story was about the two researchers in the story at Penn State. I am quite sure the company was Syncrude.

The researchers seemed unphased by the rejection and said they were sort of expecting it.

A google of Penn State and the tar sands gives this:

"Painter said his team was in contact with Syncrude about a year ago, but "they didn't seem all that interested in what we were doing."

Syncrude did not respond to calls for comment."

http://www.montre...ory.html


ennui27: Thanks,that is really interesting.Maybe Syncrude will elaborate at some later time..
ennui27
not rated yet Mar 24, 2011

ennui27: Thanks,that is really interesting.Maybe Syncrude will elaborate at some later time..


During my time at Syncrude I cannot recall how many 'new, radical more efficient and cleaner' processes were pushed by some very shady characters ..... one even managed to hoodwink investors of several millions of dollars ....

that is not to say this is a scam - but I can understand how the corporate boffins would be initially skeptical. If it is really an economically viable and clean technology it will not die away from a mere rejection.

Oil from the tar sands itself was at one time seen as a nutbar idea... "an oil mine? Gimmy a break." when last I lived there $50 billion was scheduled to be spent within 100 miles of my house.