Use of Nanocellulose for Treating Fines Dominated Oil Sand Tailings Deposits
Reclamation of oil sands fluid fine tailings (FFT) ponds is challenging due to the slow rate of natural consolidation of the suspended sediments generated during the extraction process. In order to reclaim tailings ponds, the shear strength of the sediments must first be increased to make the surface trafficable, at which point further reclamation work can be carried out on the surface of the ponds. This work presents an exciting opportunity to investigate the incorporation of nanofibrillated cellulose (NFC) into oil sands FFT to improve the strength of the tailings and expedite the remediation timeline. Successful demonstration of the practical application of NFC for tailings strengthening would result in a new market for Canada’s forestry sector, while simultaneously helping to address the ongoing tailings remediation and reclamation challenges experienced by Alberta’s oil sands industry.