CanmetENERGY’s laboratory located in Devon (Alberta) has forged strong partnerships with stakeholders across the innovation spectrum, including the Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, industry, research organizations world-wide and universities across Canada. Some of the key partnerships that contribute to the success of our programs include:
- Upgrading Catalyst Development Network (UNCD)
- US Department of Energy (US DOE)
- Oil Sands Tailings Research Facility (OSTRF)
Building and maintaining partnerships serves two main purposes – it allows us to fully understand the issues of importance to both industry and Canadians, and provides us with an effective means of disseminating relevant technologies and working with our partners to implement change.
The Upgrading Catalyst Development Network (UCDN) involves 6 Canadian universities. These are: the University of British Columbia, the University of Saskatchewan, University of Ottawa, the University of Western Ontario, Laval University and University of New Brunswick. UCDN develops innovative catalytic process technology that will open the critically important U.S. refining market to Canadian oil sands bitumen and synthetic crude oil and increase the economic and social benefits derived from Canadian bitumen and heavy oil resources in an environmentally responsible way.
The goal of UCDN is to develop novel catalytic processes for upgrading or refining highly aromatic light and heavy distillates, such as heavy gas oil derived from oil sands bitumen, or cycle oil derived from fluid catalytic cracking units. Another goal is to develop a network of catalytic upgrading expertise comprised of members from academia, government and industry across Canada, and to work synergistically within the network to maximize each member’s access to knowledge, trained personnel and equipment.
2 major research areas are under going within the parties of UCND:
- hydrogenation and selective ring opening catalyst development
- process development
The key to success for the UNCD includes the involvement of university professors and graduate students who play an essential role in scientific and technical innovation in this field.
The US Department of Energy operates a number of national laboratories and programs on energy S&T including energy efficiency and renewable energy, fossil energy, and basic energy sciences. CanmetEnergy research scientists in Devon work with DOE scientists on research and development projects related to oil sands. Recently, we have been involved with a number of small research projects directly aligned with various laboratories and divisions within the DOE, sometimes in co-operation with other Canadian federal and Alberta provincial organizations. The US DOE has been paying increasing interest to the oil sands as a secure source of future fuel and energy needs for the entire North American continent, and has placed priority emphasis on assisting engine producers, the transportation industry, and refiners to prepare for a future based on fuels derived from non-conventional resources. The collaborations originated from the jointly-sponsored Oil Sands Chemistry and Engine Emissions Workshop held in Edmonton in June 2005.
Our scientists have participated in several USDOE joint projects, including:
- oil sands-derived fuels for advanced engines
- coordinating Research Council - Advanced Vehicle/Fuels/Lubricants Committee membership
- collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee on fuels for new combustion technologies for engines
- National Research Council of Canada’s Canadian Diesel Fuel Research Collaboration, which includes participation from the US DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado. The present focus is on engine emissions from blends of biodiesel and oil sands fuel
The Oil Sands Tailings Research Facility (OSTRF) is a unique academic and industrial research facility dedicated to developing novel approaches in tailings treatment. Its opening at the Devon Research Centre in 2004 and continuing operation is made possible through in-kind and financial contributions from NRCan, the Alberta Research Council and several key partners such as the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the Alberta Science and Research Investment Program, Suncor Energy, Syncrude, Albian Sands, Canadian Natural, and True North. The OSTRF has attracted world-class students and researchers as well as trained engineers and technicians. There are 13 students at the facility working towards their masters and doctoral programs. Current research efforts, led by our scientists, are focused on projects directed at studying primary sand-fines separation, long-term dewatering, and release-water quality and quantity such as in the Athabasca Oil Sands.