GE and FilterBoxx to Advance Water Treatment Solutions for Oil Sands; 30-50% Reduction in Water Usage

GE and FilterBoxx recently signed an agreement to develop integrated de-oiling and water treatment options for Alberta’s oil sands. Specifically, the two companies will work together on heavy oil produced water treatment projects using in-situ thermal methods such as steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD).

Approximately 80% of the oil sands in Alberta cannot be open-pit mined because the bitumen is buried too deep below the surface and therefore must be recovered via in-situ methods. In-situ processes use thermal energy, steam or solvents to make bitumen flow so that it can be pumped by a well to the surface.

There are an estimated 98 billion barrels (bbl) of bitumen recoverable by in-situ technologies in the Athabasca region of Alberta alone. Conventional de-oiling and produced water treatment technologies require approximately 0.3 to 0.4 bbls of make-up water for each barrel of bitumen produced. FilterBoxx’s de-oiling and GE’s patented produced water evaporation technologies achieve significantly higher recoveries of the produced water, resulting in 30 to 50 percent less makeup water required for the SAGD process, depending on reservoir losses and other technical limitations, according to the companies.

FilterBoxx technology allows for de-oiling at high temperatures, which makes it a perfect match with GE’s evaporator technology to provide an end-to-end produced water treatment system.

—Kevin Slough, CEO of FilterBoxx

Earlier in July, GE announced a partnership with the University of Alberta (UA) and Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (AITF) on a $4 million CO2 capture project supported by the Climate Change and Emissions Management (CCEMC) Corporation. This team is leveraging research in nanotechnology to reduce CO2 emissions associated with oil sands production, and treatment of produced water generated during the oil recovery. (Earlier post.)


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