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University of Waterloo

1. James, Lesley. Mass Transfer Mechanisms during the Solvent Recovery of Heavy Oil.

Degree: 2009, University of Waterloo

Canada has the second largest proven oil reserves next to Saudi Arabia which is mostly located in Alberta and Saskatchewan but is unconventional heavy oil and bitumen. The tar sands are found at the surface and are mined, yet 80% of the 173 billion barrels of heavy oil and bitumen exist in-situ according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). Two factors inhibit the economic extraction and processing of Canadian heavy oil; its enormous viscosity ranging from 1000 to over 1 million mPa.s and the asphaltene content (high molecular weight molecules containing heavy metals and sulphur). Heavy oil and bitumen were only included in the reserves estimates through the efforts of Canadian enhanced oil recovery (EOR) research. Viscosity reduction is the one common element of in-situ methods of heavy oil recovery with the exception of cold production. Currently, steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) and cyclic steam stimulation (CSS) are being used commercially in the field where the oil’s viscosity is reduced by injecting steam. Thermal methods are energy intensive requiring vast volumes of water such that any improvement would be beneficial. Solvent extraction is one alternative requiring no water, the solvent is recoverable and reusable, and depending on the mode of operation the heavy oil is upgraded in-situ. Vapour Extraction (VAPEX) and enhanced solvent extraction (N-SolvTM) are two such methods. VAPEX and N-Solv reduce the bitumen’s viscosity via mass transfer and a combination of mass and heat transfer, respectively. A light hydrocarbon solvent (instead of steam) is injected into an upper horizontal well where the solvent mixes with the heavy oil, reduces its viscosity and allows the oil to drain under gravity to a bottom production well. The idea of using solvents for heavy oil extraction has been around since the 1970s and both VAPEX and N-Solv are patented processes. However, there is still much to be learned about how these processes physically work. Research to date has focused on varying system parameters (including model dimensions, permeability, heavy oil viscosity, solvent type and injection rate, etc.) to observe the effect on oil production from laboratory scale models. Based on an early mass balance model by Butler and Mokrys (1989) and an improvement by Das (1995), molecular diffusion alone cannot account for the produced oil rates observed from laboratory models. Until recently, very little progress had been made towards qualifying and quantifying the mass transfer mechanisms with the exception of the diffusivity of light hydrocarbons in heavy oil. Mass transfer can only be by diffusion and convection. Differentiating and quantifying the contribution of each is complex due to the nature and viscosity of the oil. The goal of this thesis is to investigate the mass transfer mechanisms during the solvent recovery of heavy oil. Quantifying the diffusion of light hydrocarbon solvents has been an active topic of research with limited success since the mid 1990’s. …

Subjects/Keywords: heavy oil; bitumen; tar sands; solvent recovery; enhanced oil recovery; solvent aided extraction; VAPEX; vapour extraction; vapor extraction; N-Solv; condensing solvent recovery

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APA · Chicago · MLA · Vancouver · CSE | Export to Zotero / EndNote / Reference Manager

APA (6th Edition):

James, L. (2009). Mass Transfer Mechanisms during the Solvent Recovery of Heavy Oil. (Thesis). University of Waterloo. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10012/4478

Note: this citation may be lacking information needed for this citation format:
Not specified: Masters Thesis or Doctoral Dissertation

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

James, Lesley. “Mass Transfer Mechanisms during the Solvent Recovery of Heavy Oil.” 2009. Thesis, University of Waterloo. Accessed September 23, 2019. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/4478.

Note: this citation may be lacking information needed for this citation format:
Not specified: Masters Thesis or Doctoral Dissertation

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

James, Lesley. “Mass Transfer Mechanisms during the Solvent Recovery of Heavy Oil.” 2009. Web. 23 Sep 2019.

Vancouver:

James L. Mass Transfer Mechanisms during the Solvent Recovery of Heavy Oil. [Internet] [Thesis]. University of Waterloo; 2009. [cited 2019 Sep 23]. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/10012/4478.

Note: this citation may be lacking information needed for this citation format:
Not specified: Masters Thesis or Doctoral Dissertation

Council of Science Editors:

James L. Mass Transfer Mechanisms during the Solvent Recovery of Heavy Oil. [Thesis]. University of Waterloo; 2009. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/10012/4478

Note: this citation may be lacking information needed for this citation format:
Not specified: Masters Thesis or Doctoral Dissertation

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