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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Optical methods for rapid quantitative analysis of bitumen content in oil sands Zhang, Yingyue


Proven oil reserves in Canada are estimated at 170 billion barrels, of which 160 billion barrels are oil sands located in Alberta. Oil sands are the remnants of degraded conventional oils mixed with large proportions of sand. The bitumen content in typical oil sands may vary from 1% to 18%. To reduce the energy and water consumption in the extraction process, one of the most important parameters for oil sands production is the bitumen content in the ore, but very few techniques are available for online monitoring of the bitumen content in oil sands. The objective of this study is to develop optical techniques for rapid monitoring of the bitumen content in oil sands. A high-speed optical scanner in combination with a telescope was built to measure the bitumen content in oil sands using the scattered light intensity and fluorescence signal from oil sands. The bitumen contents were determined with a good signal-to-noise ratio, and 2D bitumen content maps were obtained. Compared to commercial near infrared reflectance ore analyzers, this new method is insensitive to the water content and the background light intensity. The possibility of using Raman scattering for bitumen content measurements was also investigated. Although qualitative analysis was possible, quantitative analysis was difficult because of the relatively weak signal and spot-dependence.

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