Organic coated solids in athabasca bitumen: Characterization and process implications

Authors

  • Farid Bensebaa,

    1. National Research Council of Canada, Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology, Montreal Road Campus, Ottawa, ON K1A 0R6, Canada
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  • Luba S. Kotlyar,

    Corresponding author
    1. National Research Council of Canada, Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology, Montreal Road Campus, Ottawa, ON K1A 0R6, Canada
    • National Research Council of Canada, Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology, Montreal Road Campus, Ottawa, ON K1A 0R6, Canada
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  • Bryan D. Sparks,

    1. National Research Council of Canada, Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology, Montreal Road Campus, Ottawa, ON K1A 0R6, Canada
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  • Keng H. Chung

    1. Syncrude Canada Ltd., Edmonton Research Centre, 9421-17th Avenue, Edmonton, AB T6N 1H4, Canada
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Abstract

Bitumen, separated from oil sands by the hot water extraction process, contains ultra-fine (< 200 nm), inorganic solids (BS). Surfaces of BS particles are coated with toluene insoluble organic matter (TIOM). This organic material is polar and aromatic with contributions from both humic and asphaltene-like components. Although the surfaces of BS particles are dominated by TIOM, the coverage is patchy rather than continuous. As a result, these solids are capable of stabilizing fine water emulsions in the bitumen phase. The nature of the organic matter on the surfaces of the particles is such that it has a high propensity to form coke. Therefore, these particles can also play a role in fouling on equipment and catalysts.

Abstract

Le bitume séparé des sables pétrolifères par le procédé d'extraction à air chaud, contient des solides inorganiques (BS) ultrafins (<200 mm). Les surfaces des particules BS sont recouvertes de matière organique insoluble au toluène (TIOM). Cette matière organique est polaire et aromatique avec des contributions provenant de composants humiques et proches de l'asphaltène. Bien que les surfaces des particules BS soient dominées par le TIOM, le revêtement est irrégulier plutôt que continu. Par conséquent, ces solides sont capables de stabiliser des émulsions aqueuses fines dans la phase du bitume. La nature de la matière organique sur les surfaces des particules est telle qu'elle a une forte propension à former du coke. Ces particules peuvent donc jouer un rôle dans l'encrassement des équipements et des catalyseurs.

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