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), Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Seminar on Paste and Thickened Tailings
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 459-466, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_rep/1063_40_Soane
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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