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Non-Aqueous Process for Heavy Oil Removal

Much of the world's oil reserves are in the form of oil sands. Researchers have developed a process to yield heavy oil and clean dry sand. The heavy oil is extracted from the oil sands using a renewable, generally recognized as safe (GRAS) solvent followed by a liquid or supercritical carbon dioxide rinse to remove the extraction solvent from the sand. Both the extraction and rinse phases are recovered using closed–loop processing to eliminate losses.

The primary advantage of this technology is the use of a non–aqueous process for heavy oil removal. This has special significance in arid regions of the west where water is scarce and where the bulk of the U.S. oil sand reserves are located. It also eliminates the need for large settling ponds which have environmental liability to wildlife and groundwater.
In addition, this process uses solvents generally recognized as safe, limonene and liquid carbon, which are recovered in closed loop processing. Furthermore, the sand recovered from the process is clean and dry ready for use.

This technology is targeted for heavy oil recovery from oil sands. It would also have application were oil is spilled onto the soil and clean-up of the contaminated soil is desired. Existing and potential markets include:
  • Heavy oil recovery from oil sand
  • Production of clean dry sand
  • Oil contaminated soil remediation

Heavy Oil Extraction Schematic

Sand and oil after processing

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