Across the Alberta oil sands, more than 250 square kilometres of tailings ponds hold a hazardous slurry of water, residual bitumen and fine clay particles — the byproduct created from the bitumen extraction process. Before those ponds can be reclaimed as forests or wetlands, the solids content must be boosted to at least 60 per cent. The question is how?
ElectroKinetic Solutions (EKS) offers an answer. In Vegreville, Alberta, 100 kilometres east of Edmonton, they’re conducting a field trial of an innovative dewatering technology. They’ve installed electrodes across a converted sewage lagoon, now filled with 1,700 cubic metres of oil sands tailings. By sending a current through the slurry, clay particles are drawn to the anode via electrophoresis, while electro-osmosis pulls water molecules to the cathode — a dewatering technology they call the EKS-DT process.
For more information, please read the Ontario Water Consortium News Story