Measurement of dewatering properties during compressive filtration of difficult to treat mineral tailings
This project will combine filtration characterization and advanced 3D imaging and modelling of material structures to find ways to improve the recovery of process water from difficult-to-treat tailings that are the by-product of mining and mineral processing. This process is called solid-liquid separation and it is a critical area for the reduction of oil sands tailings volumes. Due to the chemistry and solids composition of oil sands tailings, they are extremely resistant to dewatering. Attempts to improve solid-liquid separation in these systems have been pursued by practitioners and researchers in the form of a variety of chemical and mechanical treatment methods. Despite modest gains and comparative improvements in water recovery and ultimate material performance, no mature technology has been developed that adequately addresses the dewatering imperative imposed by environmental, social, and economic factors. This proposal suggests a novel approach to characterizing tailings suspension that may be the basis for the development or improvement of solid-liquid separation treatment methods and technology.