​Here’s what’s new with Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance

Canadian oilsands executives sign Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance into being in March 2012. Image: Joey Podlubny/JWN

Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) issued its latest news update this week, offering details about the progress of key projects in its environmental priority areas.

The group has now been active for just over four years, and in June its 13 members re-signed their charter.

“Through COSIA, Canada’s oilsands become an innovation incubator, creating a stimulus for the development of environmental technologies that will not only solve our members’ biggest challenges, but can be transferred to other sectors with similar challenges, here in Canada and around the globe," says a statement from COSIA chief executive Dan Wicklum.

Tailings: Applied Process Innovation Centre

Canadian Natural has commenced operations at its Applied Process Innovation Centre (APIC), a 3,600-square-foot research facility located at the Horizon site. The APIC is designed to test technological improvements in tailings management, offering access to trained personnel, tailings samples and industrial equipment. Research is aimed primarily at reducing the environmental impact of tailings ponds and in situ production, COSIA says, and will be shared amongst its members.

Water: Titania Membrane De-Risking Pilot Project

Shell Canada is working with research institutions to improve oilsands water treatment. COSIA says that titania membranes may be able to meet the challenge of operating under a wide variety of water quality conditions while recycling more water. Titania membranes not only filter dissolved ions and suspended solids, they are more resistant to contamination and fouling, COSIA says.

Land: Fisheries Sustainable Habitat Committee

COSIA’s Fisheries Sustainable Habitat (FiSH) Committee was been recently created to maintain regional habitat suitability indexes (HSIs), which are models used to measure the level of disturbance to aquatic habitats due to oilsands development. FiSH will work to refine these models in order to better see how fish habitats are affected. FiSH will also collect data from different mining projects, making it easier to compare and validate, COSIA says. The project consists of two phases: first, creating a database of existing data, and second, implementing a three-year study focused on key fish species to test the models against.

Greenhouse Gases: IHS Engineering Workbench

Devon Energy is using the search engine Engineering Workbench to find technologies to use waste heat as a source of energy. In situ operations typically reuse steam to heat buildings or preheat water, while low-grade waste heat is vented into the atmosphere. Engineering Workbench allows companies to state their needs and find solutions to reuse the waste heat. COSIA says that about 20 different technologies have already been identified that could serve the oilsands industry.

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