Dissolute and emulsified (PM 10) organic compounds are one of the hazardous contaminations and represent a significant removal challenge in oil sands tailings treatment. Even with widely adopted technologies such as biological and membrane treatment methods, the effective removal is lower due to their small size and lower concentration. It is hypothesized that oil droplets constitute surface charge which can be modified to coalesce the droplets and attract to the oppositely charged surface. Additionally, high adsorption capacity open-cell polymers with affinity to these charged droplets and will improve the contamination removal efficiency. The goal of this project is to selectively target and capture these oil droplets by taking advantage of the combination strategies possible (electrical, chemical, and filtration) with open-cell polymer foams. This system has the potential to minimize treatment cost, waste, and produce reusable oil and water upon subjecting to secondary treatment.
Our initial adsorption tests showed, up to 30 g/g contamination mass uptake capacities with model oil-in-water emulsions; and up to 99.97% turbidity removal rates in 2 hrs for dilute emulsions.