Microbubble Enhanced Bitumen Separation from Tailing Slurries with High Solid Contents

31 March 2022, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Removing bitumen from oil-sands tailings reduces greenhouse gas emission during waste disposal. However, it is technically challenging to efficiently recover bitumen residual in tailing slurries with high solid contents, due to the tiny fraction of bitumen and complicated composition in the tailings. This work focuses on microbubble-enhanced bitumen recovery in a flow of artificial tailings that consisted of 50 wt% solids, 0.2 wt% bitumen and 49.8 wt% process water. Using a laboratory\textendash scale transport pipeline loop, we show that several operation conditions had a positive impact on the efficiency of bitumen recovery, including bubble formation from intensified cavitation, the addition of gas integrated with cavitation, or increasing the temperature up to 52 C. The efficiency of bitumen recovery was even higher from the addition of CO_{2} bubbles compared to air bubbles. Under optimal conditions, more than 61 % bitumen was recovered from an extremely initial fraction of 0.2 wt% with the generation of microbubbles. This work provides guideline in finding an effective combination of operational conditions for bitumen separation from hydrotransported real tailings containing high solid content. The same approach may be also applicable for cleaning of oil contaminated slurries.


Oil sand tailing
venturi tube
pipeline loop
carbon dioxide


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