Oil sands are mined and processed to generate oil similar to that pumped from conventional oil wells, but extracting oil from these sands is more complex and requires more energy than standard oil recovery. Current methods require multiple steps including heating, mechanical mixing, and chemical additions to extract hydrocarbons from the oil sands.
There have been concerns about the environmental impact of these operations, including concerns about the amount of water used in the process, energy cost to operate the systems, runoff from the tailings ponds, wastewater from the facilities, and chemical residues in the water left over from the extraction process. Past efforts have generated large tailings ponds that still contain varying amounts of bitumen indicating that the process did not efficiently extract all of the available oil.
An enhanced oil recovery process using BioTiger™ could provide a means to maximize capacity and minimize environmental impact, while remaining cost effective. The BioTiger™ microbes attach themselves to the oil sands, separating the oil from the sand particles. The microbes make the separation step easier, resulting in more removed oil and, potentially, reduced energy costs.
In a test using oil sands from Ft. McMurray, Canada, BioTiger™ demonstrated a 50 percent improvement in separation over 4 hours, and a five-fold increase at 25 hours.
It may also have potential for other oil recovery initiatives, including oil shale and other underground areas with oil deposits.
|Contact: Angie French|
DOE/Savannah River National Laboratory