Oil Sand Remediation
Committee MemberDe la Hoz Siegler, Hector
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AbstractOil sand has become an important part of the Canadian economy. It is also a natural, toxic substance. Bitumen and clay suspensions are discussed in context of their position in the biogeochemical carbon and rock cycles, respectively. In the first section, bitumen is described as a product of soil organic matter matured over geological history affected by microbial and environmental conditions. Biological moieties have been preserved intact inside asphaltene-maltene complexes due to the fact that bitumen is fossilized soil or sedimentary organic matter. Therefore the biodegradation of bitumen by common soil biodegrading enzymes is demonstrated using Lipase, for lipid fats, and Cellulase, which degrades the most abundant photosynthetically produced polysaccharide biomass on earth cellulose. These enzymes are able to hydrolytically release biomolecular fragments from bitumen, refluxing them back into the biosphere and carbon cycle. In the second section, similarly to how sedimentary minerals metamorphosize naturally, mature fine tailings (MFT) is geopolymerized to produce a metamorphic, hydrated zeolite solid. MFT samples in tanks were mixed with 1 kg KOH 1 kg K2SiO3/m3 Raw MFT and shown to solidify after 20 days, demonstrating better performance than many competing remediation techniques. In general it is demonstrated that naturalistic methods for oil sand remediation may be possible because oil sand is a natural geological product of aquatic ecosystems.
CitationMislan, M. (2021). Oil sand remediation (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.
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