Experimental Evaluation of Colloidal Nanosilica for Improving Bitumen Recovery From Mined Oil-Sand Ore
- Oleksandr Kuznetsov (Baker Hughes, A GE Company) | Devesh Agrawal (Baker Hughes, A GE Company) | Radhika Suresh (Baker Hughes, A GE Company) | Xianhua Feng (Baker Hughes, A GE Company) | Jackie Behles (Baker Hughes, A GE Company) | Valery Khabashesku (Baker Hughes, A GE Company)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering
- Publication Date
- February 2019
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 50 - 60
- 2019.Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Nanoparticles, Bitumen recovery, Oil Sands, Silica
- 9 in the last 30 days
- 125 since 2007
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Oil-sand ore flotation is a primary method of bitumen recovery from mined Athabasca tar sands. In bitumen flotation, suspended biwettable ore fines, such as clays, tend to migrate to oil/water interfaces, creating a slime coating on liberated bitumen droplets. Slime coating significantly reduces the efficiency of the flotation process and overall oil recovery. Ultradispersed hydrophilic silica nanoparticles were found to stabilize biwettable ore fines in an aqueous phase by adsorbing onto fines surfaces, even at concentrations as low as 50 ppm. As a result, fine solids move away from oil/water interfaces, reducing the slime coating and increasing bitumen recovery during flotation of low-grade ore by more than 5%. The addition of nanoparticles has no negative effect on froth quality or oil, water, and solid separation in naphthenic and paraffinic froth-treatment processes. The study demonstrated that colloidal nanoparticles affect many stages of the bitumen-extraction process—from bitumen separation to clay-wetability alteration.
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