John Jackson and David Plackett.
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
The Alberta oil sands tailing ponds contain sand slurry, clays, residual bitumen and various leached extractives in water [1,2]. Water-soluble naphthenic acids are amongst the main toxic components in the ponds and, being natural surfactants, they stabilize residual bitumen-in-water emulsions and reduce the settling rates of clay minerals. This project aims to develop inexpensive natural product‐based cationic nanomaterials that may simultaneously bind naphthenic acids and flocculate clay as a one-step method to clarify and purify tailings pond water. Bio-derived nanocrystalline natural products (NCPs) were obtained from Alberta Innovates and were surface modified with positively charged ammonium moieties and hydrophobic comb structures and then incubated with negatively charged clay suspensions or naphthenic acid solutions at tailing pond-relevant concentrations. NCPs were found to effectively flocculate and clarify clay suspensions and also to bind naphthenic acids and remove them from solution. This initial study suggests that surface-modified NCPs might be added to tailing pond water discharge effluent to accelerate the clean-up phase of the tailings water.
1. Sarkar, B. (2013) Adsorption of single-‐ring model naphthenic acid from oil sands tailings pond water using petroleum coke-derived activated carbon. PhD dissertation, Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto.
2. BGC Engineering Inc. (2010) Oil Sands Tailings Technology Review. Oil Sands Research and Information Network, University of Alberta, School of Energy and the Environment, Edmonton, Alberta. OSRIN Report No. TR-‐1. 136 pp.