Influence of the extraction process on the characteristics of oil sands fine tailings

CIM Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2010
W. G. Miller, WorleyParsons Services, Perth, Australia, J. D. Scott and D. C. Sego, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
Abstract

An overall study was conducted to evaluate the properties and processes influencing the rate and magnitude of consolidation for oil sands fine tailings produced using different extraction processes. As part of the overall study, a comprehensive description of physical and chemical characteristics of fine tailings generated by caustic and non-caustic processes was carried out. Ultimately, the influence of these fundamental properties on the compressibility, hydraulic conductivity and shear strength properties of the fine tailings was assessed. The characteristics of the fine tailings are presented in terms of index properties, mineralogy, specific surface area, water chemistry, liquid limits, particle size distribution and structure. A difference in water chemistry was concluded to be the cause of substantial differences in particle size distributions and degree of dispersion of the comparable caustic and non-caustic fine tailings. The degree of dispersion was consistent with predictions for dispersed clays established by the sodium adsorption ratio (SAR) values for these materials. A linear variation of increasing dispersion with increasing SAR up to a SAR value of about 40 has been suggested, above which fine tailings are completely dispersed. The observed dispersed or flocculated structures (viewed using a scanning electron microscope) supported the predictions based on SAR values.


Une étude détaillée a été réalisée afin d’évaluer les propriétés et les processus influençant le taux et l’ampleur de la consolidation des résidus fins de sables bitumineux produits par différents processus d’extraction. Dans le cadre de l’étude détaillée, les caractéristiques physiques et chimiques des résidus fins générés par les processus caustiques et non caustiques ont été décrites de manière très complète. De plus, l’influence de ces propriétés fondamentales sur la compressibilité, la conductivité hydraulique et la résistance en cisaillement des résidus fins a été évaluée. Les caractéristiques des résidus fins sont présentées en termes de leurs propriétés de base, de la minéralogie, de la surface spécifique, de l’hydrochimie, des limites liquides, de la granulométrie et de la structure. Il a été conclu que l’hydrochimie différente est la cause des différences significatives dans la distribution granulométrique et le degré de dispersion des résidus fins comparables, caustiques et non caustiques. Le degré de dispersion concordait avec les prédictions pour les argiles dispersées établies par les valeurs du rapport d’adsorption du sodium (SAR) pour ces matériaux. Une variation linéaire de l’augmentation de la dispersion avec une augmentation du SAR jusqu’à une valeur SAR d’environ 40 a été suggérée; au-dessus de cette valeur, les résidus fins sont complètement dispersés. Les structures dispersées ou floculées (observées au microscope électronique à balayage) supportent les prévisions basées sur les valeurs SAR.
Keywords: Oil sands, Fine tailings, Index properties, Specific surface area, Water chemistry, Particle size distribution, Dispersion, Flocculation, Structure, Sodium adsorption ratio, Fines content, Coagulant, Sables bitumineux, Résidus fins, Propriétés caractéristiques, Surface spécifique, Hydrochimie, Granulométrie, Dispersion, Floculation, Structure, Rapport d’adsorption du sodium, Teneur en particules fines, Coagulant
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Summary: An overall study was conducted to evaluate the properties and processes influencing the rate and magnitude of consolidation for oil sands fine tailings produced using different extraction processes. As part of this overall study, consolidation tests using slurry consolidometers were carried out for caustic and non-caustic fine tailings. The influence of a change in bitumen extraction process (caustic versus non-caustic) on consolidation properties, namely compressibility and hydraulic...
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Author(s): W. G. Miller, WorleyParsons Services, Perth, Australia and J. D. Scott and D. C. Sego, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
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