Authors: Soane, D; Ware, W; Mahoney, R; Kincaid, P

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Soane, D, Ware, W, Mahoney, R & Kincaid, P 2010, 'A novel waste water cleanup, fines sequestration and consolidation technology for oil sands applications', in R Jewell & AB Fourie (eds), Paste 2010: Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Seminar on Paste and Thickened Tailings, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 459-466,

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Soane Energy has developed a wastewater treatment technology capable of rapidly sequestering suspended fines and other pollutants from tailings produced during oil sand operations, thus arresting a growing environmental problem at its source. The technology can also be adapted to clarification of existing tailings ponds, mitigating a major environmental liability. This platform technology, termed the ATA System, comprises three basic components: an Activator polymer, a Tether polymer and an Anchor particle. First, a small dose of the Activator polymer is added to the fine or mature tailings, causing the suspended clay fines to aggregate. Separately, the Anchor particles are coated with a Tether polymer. Sand derived from coarse tails provides a convenient source of the Anchor particle, due to its abundance at oil sand sites. The Tether-bearing Anchor particles exhibit a strong affinity to the clay fines in the Activated tailings. When the two treated streams are combined, the Tether-bearing Anchor particles quickly bind to the aggregated clay fines in the Activated tailings, forming robust complexes that can be easily separated from the waste stream. Two output streams emerge from the ATA process: a clean water stream that can be reused in the oil sands extraction process, and a dewatered solid that possesses sufficient mechanical integrity for landfill, construction and/or reclamation applications. Recycling of clean water produced by the ATA process can significantly decrease the need for fresh water intake. Moreover, since this process removes fines from water almost instantaneously, the recycled water retains a significant amount of the sensible heat, reducing the energy requirement of oil sand extraction and concomitant green house gas emission.

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