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UBC Theses and Dissertations

On the flow and beaching behaviour of sub-aerially deposited, polymer-flocculated oil sands tailings : a conceptual and energy-based model Charlebois, Lawrence E.


This thesis presents the background, observations, and analyses performed during an investigation of the flocculated mature fine tailings (MFT) technology at the Suncor Energy Oil Sands Tailings Reduction Operation (TRO) in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. The sub-aerial flow and deposition of flocculated MFT on a sloping beach can be described in the context of a rheology-energy conceptual model. The conceptual model, or flow map, can provide deposition cell designers and operators with a useful framework for managing beach development in a sub-aerial deposition cell. Observations during field work resulted in the development of the flow map and the establishment of numerical boundaries for the transitions between flow types. Practical applications for this new conceptual model are provided. The database of fully-developed beach surveys presented in this thesis demonstrates the trend of strongly concave profiles. This concavity has significant repercussions for tailings management and cell design, and cannot be ignored when calculating storage volumes. Furthermore, it is shown that the McPhail (1995) stream power model provides a robust tool for estimating ultimate beach profiles developed from the sub-aerial discharge of polymer-flocculated MFT. The model has been validated against field-scale measurements and is consistent with the rheology-energy conceptual model developed to describe the flocculated MFT flow behaviour.

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