Separation of Bitumen from Bituminous Sands


THE separation of the bitumen from the Alberta bituminous sands by washing with hot water has been under study by the Research Council of Alberta for a number of years. It has been found that generally good separation can be effected by first thoroughly mixing the bituminous sand with about one-fifth of its weight of a solution of commercial silicate of soda of 2 per cent or less concentration, heating the mixture to a temperature of about 85° C., and then introducing the bituminous sand thus treated into a body of hot water also at a temperature of about 85° C. The bitumen collects on the surface of the water as a froth. Runs through our laboratory separation plant using recently mined bituminous sand of from 10 to 17 per cent bitumen content yield separated bitumen containing 5 per cent or less of mineral matter. However, in spite of careful control of ordinary factors, such as temperature, quantity and concentration of reagents, time of treatment, rate of feed, etc., it has not seemed possible to duplicate results closely. Two batches from the same supply of bituminous sand might give separated bitumens containing 1 and 4 per cent of mineral matter, although care had been taken to separate them under similar conditions.

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CLARK, K. Separation of Bitumen from Bituminous Sands. Nature 127, 199 (1931).

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