It has been considered that water soluble species can influence the recovery of bitumen by having an effect on parameters such as wettability or surface charge, thereby altering interactions between oil sand components.

This work considers interactions occurring between representative water soluble acid species and their potential effect on bitumen recovery. It considers the characterization of oil sands components in terms of physicochemical and dielectric properties. Dielectric properties arise from electronic and atomic polarization or dipole, ionic or dielectric relaxation mechanisms. Organic compounds present in the water in the natural environment and also considered to be in oil sand reservoirs are functionalized with chemical groups that undergo chemical processes dependent on the physical conditions of the environment.

The study focusses on a combination of artificially prepared systems analyzed using a variety of techniques, including dielectric spectroscopy, UV-Vis spectrophotometry, sedimentation analysis and adsorption isotherms. Dielectric measurements were undertaken on a range of artificially prepared samples analyzed at moderately low frequencies (10-2 to 107 Hz), which, in the first part of this study, revealed strong, regular dependencies on the composition of the systems, enabling effects of adsorbed species to be discerned. These results revealed information on the properties of a range of compounds naturally present in the oil sand or induced during processing. Colloid and interfacial properties were probed through conductivity, surface tension and zeta potential measurements. With reference to the literature and the new results, an attempt has been made to propose the mechanism representing the interactions between the water soluble compounds and other components present in oil sands such as solids and bitumen, which influence not only heavy oil recovery but also produced water treatment.

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