Acceleware files patent to use RF technology to improve crude by rail

Image: Joey Podlubny/JWN

Radio frequency oilsands technology developer Acceleware is branching out potential applications for its systems as it advances preparations for its in situ field pilot.

Last year the company announced an agreement with Prosper Petroleum to test its RF XL technology at the producer’s Rigel oilsands lease north of Fort McMurray.

Acceleware says that with partner Scovan Engineering it has completed the front-end engineering design for the surface facilities required for the test, while the company's drilling and completions consultants, including Codeco-Vanoco Engineering, have substantially completed designs for the proprietary RF XL heater wells, along with the industry standard producer wells.

The Alberta Energy Regulator is currently reviewing the project application, which was filed in October 2018.

Acceleware believes that RF XL technology has the potential to save the industry billions by reducing both capital and operating costs, while offering major environmental benefits including GHG emissions and land use reductions, as well as no requirement for external water or solvents.

It also believes it could make crude by rail operations safer and more cost efficient.

The company has filed a provisional patent application that contemplates using the same RF XL generator platform, designed and developed with GE, to heat cooled bitumen within rail cars at the destination terminal.

“This would enable undiluted (neat) bitumen to be shipped safely in rail cars and then heated with RF energy at the destination, providing producers with the opportunity to lower costs, enhance profitability and significantly improve the safety of transporting bitumen by rail,” Acceleware said in a statement on Wednesday.

“In addition, this application could potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions through higher efficiency heating, higher volume of bitumen in each train, and the potential use of renewable electricity.”

Acceleware now has two patents granted, 13 patents pending, and has another nine applications in progress.

For the field test, the company has a $2 million funding agreement with an unnamed major oilsands producer, and $10 million committed by Sustainable Development Technology Canada and Emissions Reduction Alberta.