Researchers have developed a process to remove contaminants from oil sands wastewater using only sunlight and nanoparticles that is more effective and inexpensive than conventional treatment methods.
Frank Gu, a professor in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo and Canada Research Chair in Nanotechnology Engineering, is the senior researcher on the team that was the first to find that photocatalysis — a chemical reaction that involves the absorption of light by nanoparticles — can completely eliminate naphthenic acids in oil sands wastewater, and within hours. Naphthenic acids pose a threat to ecology and human health. Water in tailing ponds left to biodegrade naturally in the environment still contains these contaminants decades later.
“With about a billion tonnes of water stored in ponds in Alberta, removing naphthenic acids is one of the largest environmental challenges in Canada,” said Tim Leshuk, a PhD candidate in chemical engineering at Waterloo. He is the lead author of this paper and a recipient of the prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. “Conventional treatments people have tried either haven’t worked, or if they have worked, they’ve been far too impractical or expensive to solve the size of the problem. Waterloo’s technology is the first step of what looks like a very practical and green treatment method.”
Unlike treating polluted water with chlorine or membrane filtering, the Waterloo technology is energy-efficient and relatively inexpensive. Nanoparticles become extremely reactive when exposed to sunlight and break down the persistent pollutants in their individual atoms, completely removing them from the water. This treatment depends on only sunlight for energy, and the nanoparticles can be recovered and reused indefinitely.
Next steps for the Waterloo research include ensuring that the treated water meets all of the objectives Canadian environmental legislation and regulations required to ensure it can be safely discharged from sources larger than the samples, such as tailing ponds.
The Latest on: Oil sands
via Google News
The Latest on: Oil sands
- As Canadian oil sands site fights infections, some want fewer fly-in workerson May 12, 2020 at 9:47 am
A coronavirus outbreak at a Canadian oil sands site has spread across five provinces and sparked calls to limit the use of fly-in workers in the remote locations. Projects that use fly-in workers repr ...
- Major insurers increase cover for Trans Mountain oil pipeline - filingson May 12, 2020 at 9:18 am
Major insurers Zurich, Chubb increased their insurance cover for a Canadian oil sands pipeline over the last year, Canadian regulatory filings show. The Trans Mountain TMC.UL pipeline, which ships ...
- 3 Ways To Play the Oil Recoveryon May 12, 2020 at 9:01 am
With sentiment towards oil and gas companies hitting record lows, trying to pick winners in the energy sector can be an onerous and thankless task at a time when fossil fuels are facing a crisis of ...
- Oil sands cuts blow hole in Alberta economyon May 11, 2020 at 4:44 am
For Alberta's economy this year, it's almost as if the oil sands have gone missing. By signing up, you agree to receive E&E News email updates and offers. You also grant your consent to our data ...
- Canada's Imperial Oil swings to loss on virus-fueled rout in crude priceson May 9, 2020 at 6:57 am
The company's peers, Cenovus Energy Inc and Husky Energy Inc , posted quarterly losses on Wednesday. Husky said it would cut its dividend by 90%, while Cenovus suspended its dividend.
- Energy Sector Cuts Blow Oil-Sands-Sized Hole in Alberta Economyon May 8, 2020 at 8:40 am
For Alberta’s economy this year, it’s almost as if the oil sands have gone missing.Canadian energy companies ranging from oil and gas producers to pipeline operators and service companies have ...
- Crude-Rich Alberta Faces an Oil-Sands-Sized Hole in Its Economyon May 7, 2020 at 1:49 pm
In other words, spending cuts across the Canadian energy sector have been so vast, they effectively cancel out all the new capital that oil-sands growth was expected to bring into Alberta this year -- ...
- First Nations worried by suspension of oil sands environmental monitoringon May 7, 2020 at 1:28 pm
Fort McKay, located north of Fort McMurray in the heart of the oil sands, is surrounded on three sides by development. Its concerns about those impacts are long-standing ...
- The Oil Crash Could Be Geothermal’s Big Breakon May 7, 2020 at 1:15 pm
Geothermal power requires similar infrastructure and skills as fossil fuel extraction, which means laid-off oil workers could switch to greener work pretty easily.
- Canada's Imperial Oil says 50 birds died after landing on its tailings pondson May 5, 2020 at 6:54 pm
About 50 birds have died in Canada's oil heartland of Alberta after landing on tailings ponds at Imperial Oil's IMO.TO Kearl Lake site, the integrated energy com ...
via Bing News