Edmonton, Canada

Alberta Research Council

www.arc.ab.ca
Edmonton, Canada

Alberta Research Council is an Alberta government funded applied research and development corporation. In January 2010, the name was changed to Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures Wikipedia.

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Schmidt A.,Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research | Gibson J.J.,Alberta Research Council | Santos I.R.,Southern Cross University of Australia | Schubert M.,Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research | And 2 more authors.
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences | Year: 2010

Radon-222, a naturally-occurring radioisotope with a half-life of 3.8 days, was used to estimate groundwater discharge to small lakes in wetland-dominated basins in the vicinity of Fort McMurray, Canada. This region is under significant water development pressure including both oil sands mining and in situ extraction. Field investigations were carried out in March and July 2008 to measure radon-222 distributions in the water column of two lakes as a tracer of groundwater discharge. Radon concentrations in these lakes ranged from 0.5 to 72 Bq/m3, while radon concentrations in groundwaters ranged between 2000 and 8000 Bq/m3. A radon mass balance, used in comparison with stable isotope mass balance, suggested that the two lakes under investigation had quite different proportions of annual groundwater inflow (from 0.5% to about 14% of the total annual water inflow). Lower discharge rates were attributed to a larger drainage area/lake area ratio which promotes greater surface connectivity. Interannual variability in groundwater proportions is expected despite an implied seasonal constancy in groundwater discharge rates. Our results demonstrate that a combination of stable isotope and radon mass balance approaches provides information on flowpath partitioning that is useful for evaluating surface-groundwater connectivity and acid sensitivity of individual water bodies of interest in the Alberta Oil Sands Region.


Gibson J.J.,Alberta Research Council | Reid R.,Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
Journal of Hydrology | Year: 2010

Stable isotopes of water, oxygen-18 and deuterium, were measured at biweekly to monthly intervals during the open-water season in a small, headwater lake (Pocket Lake, 4.8 ha) near Yellowknife Northwest Territories, and concurrently in a nearby string-of-lakes watershed (Baker Creek, 137 km2) situated in the subarctic Precambrian Shield region. As measured in water samples collected over a 12 year period (1997-2008), the levels of evaporative isotopic enrichment in both lake and watershed outflow were differentially offset, and seasonal variations were found in both to be driven by variations in open-water evaporation. Systematic differences measured in the magnitude of the offset between the lake and watershed outflow are interpreted as being caused by changes in the effective drainage area contributing to runoff. Based on the observed and extremely consistent relationship between isotopic compositions of lake water and watershed outflow (r2 = 0.849, p < 0.001) we extend the analysis of open-water evaporation losses and effective drainage areas back to 1991 when less-frequent water sampling at the sites commenced. This 18-year record serves to demonstrate for the first time the expected variability in the evaporation and transpiration partitioning, upper limits on the effective drainage area, and isotopic signals transferred downstream in a typical shield drainage system within the Mackenzie Basin. © 2009 Elsevier B.V.


Frauenfeld T.,Alberta Research Council | Jossy C.,Alberta Research Council | Ivory J.,Alberta Research Council
Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology | Year: 2010

Solvent-based processes for recovery of heavy oil and bitumen have potential application to a variety of reservoir situations. Potential processes range from steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) to VAPEX, with a range of hybrid processes in between. Over 50 laboratory-scale and 80 field-scale simulations were run to determine optimwn operating points for various hybrid processes. The results showed that steam-butane simulations yielded two "sweet spots" where the cost objective function was lower than that for SAGD. Economic analysis was done based on a set of field-scale simulations. This analysis showed that a hybrid solvent process for an Athabasca reservoir was an alternative to SAGD. The analysis may be extended to other reservoir types as needed.


Aumann C.A.,Alberta Research Council
Environmental Modelling and Software | Year: 2011

This paper focuses on an approach for constructing credibility in models used to evaluate environmental policies. Credibility is defined as adequacy relative to an intended use. The proposed approach is located within a broader policy assessment framework and is general enough to function in both scientific and policy assessment contexts. A model assessment framework is introduced and linked to current understanding of mental models in cognitive psychology to provide a possible explanation of how stakeholders come to view modeling results as credible. Since policy evaluation is about an unknown and unknowable future, data to assess model performance will be limited. A number of options are suggested for how credibility can be constructed in such situations. The argument presented depends primarily on i) the hierarchical levels of simulation models, ii) the ability to apply model assessment criteria specified across these hierarchical levels, and iii) the public nature of these criteria relative to the mental models of stakeholders enables debate about the adequacy of the criteria relative to the intended purpose of the policy appraisal. Taken together these aspects enables stakeholders to reach agreement on necessary and desirable performance criteria for the modeling results to be credible. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd.


Yuan J.-Y.,Osum Oil Sands Corporation | McFarlane R.,Alberta Research Council
Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology | Year: 2011

The impact of steam quality, circulation rate and pressure difference between the well pair during SAGD initialization using steam circulation was explored through the use of numerical simulations employing a discretized wellbore model. These operating parameters appear to affect uniformity of reservoir heating, occurrence of steam breakthrough and time required to establish communication between the well pair. The simulation results indicate that, for the given tubing and liner sizes and reservoir properties, relatively lower circulation rates at high-steam quality are more favourable for faster initialization and development of uniform temperature between the horizontal well pair. At lower steam qualities, however, higher circulation rates appear more favourable. The use of high-steam quality in combination with high-circulation rates leads to slower rates of initialization, less uniform heating along the length of the wells and possibility of premature steam breakthrough at the heel. It was also found that having a higher steam quality in the lower well than in the upper well could lead to faster initialization and more uniform heating between the well pair. Although a large pressure difference is not encouraged, a small pressure difference, offsetting the natural hydraulic pressure (50 kPa), appears to be more favourable for faster and more uniform initialization.


Burdukova E.,University of Melbourne | Li H.,Alberta Research Council | Ishida N.,Japan National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology | O'Shea J.-P.,University of Melbourne | Franks G.V.,University of Melbourne
Journal of Colloid and Interface Science | Year: 2010

Poly (N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) is a temperature responsive polymer. At temperature below its lower critical solution temperature (LCST 32 °C) PNIPAM is soluble in water and hydrophilic. At temperature above the LCST, the polymer becomes hydrophobic and insoluble in water. At temperatures above the LCST, PNIPAM has been shown to induce flotation of previously hydrophilic minerals. The mechanism is believed to be an increase in particle hydrophobicity when PNIPAM adsorbs to the particle surfaces at high temperature. This paper investigates the interaction forces between bare silica surfaces in PNIPAM solutions. The influence of three phase contact angles on these interactions, in the presence of polymers of different molecular weights, is also examined. It was found that the presence of PNIPAM on silica surfaces significantly increases their hydrophobicity at a temperature above the LCST. The AFM measurements of surface forces at high temperature also showed that strong adhesion is present between the PNIPAM coated surfaces, which is absent in the absence of polymer. These findings lead to the conclusion that the detected attractive force and subsequent adhesion result from hydrophobic attraction induced by PNIPAM at temperature above the LCST. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Huang X.,University of Quebec at Chicoutimi | Kocaefe D.,University of Quebec at Chicoutimi | Kocaefe Y.,University of Quebec at Chicoutimi | Boluk Y.,Alberta Research Council | Pichette A.,University of Quebec at Chicoutimi
Polymer Degradation and Stability | Year: 2012

Heat-treated wood, a relatively new product treated at high temperatures of 180-260 °C, possesses new versatile and attractive properties, which makes it popular for outdoor applications. It is of considerable importance to investigate the influence of sunlight on the weathering degradation processes. In order to understand the degradation processes, kiln-dried (untreated) and heat-treated (210°C) jack pine woods (Pinus banksiana) were exposed to artificial sunlight irradiation for different periods. Before and after exposure, their color and wettability by water were determined. Structural changes and chemical modifications at exposed surfaces were also investigated using SEM, FTIR spectroscopy, and XPS. Degradation of middle lamellae, checking of cell wall and destruction of bordered pits were observed on heat-treated wood surfaces due to sunlight irradiation by SEM analyses. FTIR spectroscopy and XPS studies provided information about the behavior of functional groups of lignin during irradiation. The oxygen to carbon ratios revealed that the photo-degradation of lignin and presence of extractives played important roles in discoloration and wetting behavior of heat-treated wood surfaces during irradiation. The structural changes during irradiation also influenced wettabilty of the irradiated samples. © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


McFarlane R.A.,Alberta Research Council | Gray M.R.,University of Alberta | Shaw J.M.,University of Alberta
Fluid Phase Equilibria | Year: 2010

The Peng-Robinson cubic equation of state (CEOS) is widely used to predict thermodynamic properties of pure fluids and mixtures. The usual implementation of this CEOS requires critical properties of each pure component and combining rules for mixtures. Determining critical properties for components of heavy asymmetric mixtures such as bitumen is a challenge due to thermolysis at elevated temperatures. Group contribution (GC) methods were applied for the determination of critical properties of molecular representations developed by Sheremata for Athabasca vacuum tower bottoms (VTB). In contrast to other GC methods evaluated, the Marrero-Gani GC method yielded estimated critical properties with realistic, non-negative values, followed more consistent trends with molar mass and yielded normal boiling points consistent with high temperature simulated distillation data. Application of classical mixing rules to a heavy asymmetric mixture such as bitumen yields saturated liquid density and bubble pressure estimates in qualitative agreement with experimental data. However the errors are too large for engineering calculations. In this work, new composite mixing rules for computing co-volumes of asymmetric mixtures are developed and evaluated. For example, composite mixing rules give improved bubble point predictions for the binary mixture ethane + n-tetratetracontane. For VTB and VTB + decane mixtures the new composite mixing rules showed encouraging results in predicting bubble point pressures and liquid phase densities. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Patent
Alberta Research Council | Date: 2010-06-15

A board suitable for use as container flooring uses bamboo and fast-growth low-density wood. Thin layers of high-density bamboo composites are used to overlay on surfaces of a core layer which can be the composite of wood veneer and wood strand-based composite, or wood veneer and bamboo stripe sheet composite. This invention combines the benefits of bamboo and wood materials to produce a bamboo-wood composite board having sufficient mechanical and physical strength and durability for use as container flooring.


Ordorica-Garcia G.,Alberta Research Council | Faltinson J.,Alberta Research Council | Gunter W.D.,Alberta Research Council
Energy Procedia | Year: 2011

The rise in GHG emissions from the oil sands industry has prompted government and industry to seek ways to reduce its CO 2 output. CCS is currently the leading option in Alberta. A key to making it viable is a system that allows multiple emitters to gather, capture, and transport their CO 2 to the best sinks, efficiently and economically. The oil sands are located in Northern Alberta. Geological formations suitable for CO 2 storage exist in the South-West region, ∼400 km from the sources. Implementing CCS will necessitate transporting roughly 30 megatonnes of CO 2 to suitable sinks. One of the best sinks is the underground aquifer in the Redwater Reef near Ft. Saskatchewan, with an estimated preliminary capacity of one gigatonne of CO 2, or 37 years of CO 2 emissions from oil sands, at 2007 rates. In this study, we compare two schemes to transport CO 2 from oil sands operations by capturing CO 2 and: 1) transporting it in its supercritical state to storage in the Redwater Reef and 2) transporting it in solution to Redwater, regenerating the solvent on-site and storing the CO 2 in the Redwater Reef. The fugitive emissions of Case 1 are consistently higher than those of Case 2. This is due to the former's electricity demands and the fact that the emissions associated with energy for solvent regeneration are not captured. Case 1 is more susceptible to electricity cost fluctuations than Case 2, but the latter is more susceptible to changes in the price of fuel. Although the CAPEX is similar for both, Case 2 benefits more from economies of scale than Case 1; the OPEX for Case 1 is 3.5% higher. The avoidance costs of Case 2 are lower on a gross basis (111 vs. 114 $/tonne CO 2) and on a net basis (327 vs. 851 $/tonne CO 2). © 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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