SAP Based Rapid Dewatering of Oil Sands Mature Fine Tailings

Title: SAP Based Rapid Dewatering of Oil Sands Mature Fine Tailings
Authors: Aida, Farkish
Date: 2013
Abstract: Mature fine tailings (MFT), as a mixture of residual bitumen, sand, silt, fine clay particles and water, are a byproduct of oil sands extraction. The large volume, and poor consolidation and water release ability of MFT have been causing significant economic and environmental concerns. Therefore, several studies have been implemented on finding innovative dewatering/disposal techniques. As a result, different methods have been introduced and tested at a laboratory or a field scale, yet very few of these are commercially used in the oil sands industries. Despite the extensive research, an optimal solution has not been found due to the lack of technical or economic feasibility. In the present study, a novel approach that consists of the rapid dewatering of MFT by using a super absorbent polymer (SAP) to produce dense MFT is proposed. A comprehensive laboratory investigation on the geotechnical characteristics and behavior before and after treatment of MFT is conducted. The effects of SAP based dewatering and freeze/thaw cycles on the undrained shear strength of dewatered MFT by using a vane shear apparatus are studied. Furthermore, the ability of recycled SAP to dewater and densify MFT is assessed. Finally, this study provides the results of consolidation and hydraulic conductivity testing to evaluate the void ratio versus effective stress and hydraulic conductivity of MFT. The effects on the behavior and characteristics of MFT after amendment with usage of recycled SAP are also investigated. The results indicate that SAP has the ability to significantly dewater, densify and increase the undrained shear strength of MFT. Furthermore, when subjected to freeze/thaw cycles, the MFT dewatered with SAP shows an additional increase in strength and solid content. It is also found to be possible to regenerate the polymer (still within sachets) through light thermal drying, and the regenerated SAP can still significantly dewater and thus increase the shear strength and solid content of the MFT. In addition, the obtained high solid content affects and improves the compressibility of the material, thus resulting in low initial void ratios. On the other hand, low hydraulic permeability that is derived from low initial void ratios and consolidation is improved by the freeze/thaw process due to the interconnected voids created during the freezing process.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -