Instead of using UV lamps as a light source to treat oil sands process affected water (OSPW) retained in tailings ponds, professors Mohamed Gamal El-Din and James Bolton have found using sunlight as a renewable energy source treats the wastewater just as efficiently but at a much lower cost.
Oil sands tailings ponds contain a mixture of suspended solids, salts, and other dissolvable compounds like benzene, acids, and hydrocarbons. Typically, these tailings ponds take 20 plus years before they can be reclaimed.
The solar UV/chlorine treatment process when applied to the tailings ponds would make OSPW decontamination and detoxification immediate.
“We know it works, so now the challenge is to transfer it into the field,” says Gamal El-Din.
“This alternative process not only addresses the need for managing these tailings ponds, but it may also be used to treat municipal wastewater.” Gamal El-Din adds, “being a solar-driven process, the cost would be minimal compared to what’s being used in the field now. This process has been gaining a lot of attention from the oil sands industry. We’re now seeking funds for a pilot-pant demonstration and are looking at commercializing the technology.”
The team’s research findings are published in the Environmental Science and Technology.
(source:University of Alberta)