Froth produced by hot-water extraction process usually contains about 60 wt% bitumen, 30 wt% water and 10 wt% solids. Water and solids are further removed in froth treatment process to obtain the acceptable bitumen product with minimal amount of hydrocarbon loss to tailing stream. Fine solids are known to play an important role in this three-phase separation, but little work has been done to characterize the fine solids and to investigate how their composition affects solids-bitumen interaction. In this work, several fine solids were isolated from the different streams in a froth treatment plant. The composition and properties of fine solids were characterized by Dean Stark Soxhlet extraction, PAS-FTIR, elemental analysis, and particle size distribution. It was found that composition and properties of the solids isolated from different sources are dramatically different. The solids that are more difficult to separate from hydrocarbon phase contained a significantly higher value of Fe element. Fe minerals in these solids were determined to be siderite. Besides siderite, kaolinite is another major component in the separated solids. The composition and particle size determine the interactions between solids and bitumen. The interaction between fine solids and bitumen adversely influences the bitumen/water/solids separation, affecting the quality of bitumen and resulting in hydrocarbon loss to tailings.

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