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Hydro Transport of Bituminous Sands

In the early 1990s, Syncrude developed a hydro transport process to move oil sands. The innovation was based on the OSLO Cold Water Extraction process. The oil sand was transported on a conveyor belt where water was added and the mixture was sent through pipelines to the extraction plant. The process was changed to make oil sand transport flexible, faster, and cheaper than the Cold Water process. The oil sand is dumped into a cyclofeeder, a thirty-five metre tall crusher and add hot water. This forms slurry that is sent through the pipeline to the extraction plant at high speeds. A new addition to this system is called “Natural Froth Lubricity.” Using water from the mixture to create a lubricating froth, the oil sand moves even faster without having to dilute it further.

The benefit of the Hydro Transport System of bituminous sands is that larger lumps of ore and oil sand are broken down even before it reaches the extraction plant. As a result, less energy is used to separate the oil sand since the operating temperature of the extraction being reduced to sixty degrees Celsius or less. This reduces the cost of heating the water and the amount of fuel used, which benefits the environment.


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