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
- How One Oil-Rich Province Could Help Canada Capture a Low-Carbon Futureon May 10, 2021 at 3:41 pm
The province of Alberta is exploring ways to capture carbon from the air in an effort to address climate change.
- As COVID-19 rates in oil sands spike, companies step up protective measureson May 10, 2021 at 1:14 pm
COVID-19 outbreaks identified at several work lodges as well as at production facilities operated by oil sands producers including Suncor Energy Inc., Syncrude, Imperial Oil Ltd., Canadian Natural ...
- Can Canada's oil-rich Alberta capture a low-carbon future?on May 7, 2021 at 4:49 am
At a research site in rural Alberta, carbon dioxide is injected deep into the ground. Using remote sensors, scientists monitor its movement to ensure the planet-heating gas does not migrate upwards.
- Alberta oil sands group starts offering on-site COVID-19 vaccines as CNRL confirms 2 deathson May 6, 2021 at 5:07 pm
On-site COVID-19 vaccine clinics are starting to be offered at industrial camps and sites in the Fort McMurray area.
- Canada's Alberta temporarily tweaks environmental liability for oil sands mineson May 6, 2021 at 1:39 pm
The Canadian province of Alberta said on Thursday it will allow oil sands mining companies to change how they calculate environmental liabilities this year, to take into account the wild swings of ...
- Canada's oil sands has become COVID-19 hotspoton May 1, 2021 at 9:15 pm
Canada's oil-rich Alberta province is battling the highest rate of COVID-19 in the country, and Alberta's oil sands region has become a COVID hotspot, disrupting ...
- Waterous Energy Fund Announces the Completion of the Final Step of its Acquisition of Osum Oil Sands Corp.on April 30, 2021 at 4:38 pm
CNW/ - Waterous Energy Fund ("WEF") and Osum Oil Sands Corp. ("Osum") are pleased to announce that a special meeting of shareholders (the "Meeting") o ...
- Canada's oil sands region becomes country's COVID-19 hotspoton April 30, 2021 at 9:41 am
Canada's remote oil sands region in northern Alberta has become a COVID-19 hotspot, disrupting essential annual maintenance work at its massive oil sands plants. CALGARY, Alberta, April 30 (Reuters) - ...
- Oil Sands Pipeline Wins Bid to Hide Insurers From Activistson April 29, 2021 at 9:13 am
Trans Mountain Pipeline LP’s effort to keep its insurers’ names confidential was accepted by regulators in a setback for environmental groups fighting to prevent development of the Canadian oil sands.
- Canada’s Oil Sands In Trouble As COVID Cases Soaron April 28, 2021 at 8:30 am
The northern parts of Canada’s province of Alberta have seen rising coronavirus cases in recent weeks with several oil sands sites becoming hot spots of outbreaks as workers are flying in and out for ...
via Bing News