Large quantities of water are used to extract oil from oil sand. Most of the water used is hot water, which is needed to reduce the viscosity of the oil. After the oil-water separation, this water is temporarily stored in sedimentation basins as so-called recycling water. One approach to increasing economic efficiency and sustainability is to make these enormous quantities of water usable for further production processes. Ceramic nanofiltration membranes can contribute to an economical and environmentally friendly solution.
Due to their resistance to organic components and oils, their desalination properties and their temperature stability, they are ideally suited for new efficient cleaning processes with which the water and, if necessary, part of the heat can be reused. In cooperation with Shell Global Solutions International B.V., Shell Canada Ltd, Alberta Innovates - Energy and Environment Solutions and Andreas Junghans Anlagenbau und Edelstahlbearbeitung GmbH & Co. KG ceramic 19-channel nanofiltration membranes have been tested on oil sand field in Canada since 2013. It has been shown that alkaline earth ions (calcium, magnesium) can be separated by 80 % and alkali ions (sodium, potassium) by 55 %. At the same time, organic components are completely retained. Long-term tests over several months showed a stable membrane behavior.