In bitumen flotation, ultra-dispersed hydrophilic nanoparticles are found to be capable of stabilizing biwettable ore fines in aqueous phase by adsorbing onto fines surfaces. As a result, fine solids move away from oil/water interfaces reducing slime-coating onto liberated bitumen droplets. It was demonstrated that reduction of slime-coating increases bitumen recovery during flotation of low grade ore by more than 5%. Addition of nanoparticles has no negative effect on froth quality as well as on oil, water and solids separation in naphthenic and paraffinic froth treatment processes. Detailed molecular dynamics (MD) simulations revealed mechanisms which improve bitumen liberation from mined oil sands in flotation process. Therefore our studies demonstrate that colloidal nanoparticles affect all stages of bitumen extraction process from bitumen separation to clay wettability alteration.

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