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Who We Are: Explore Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA)
COSIA is an alliance of oil sands producers accelerating the improvement of environmental performance in Canada's oil sands through collaboration and innovation. To create the breakthroughs needed, we are bringing together industry, government, academia and innovators to reduce emissions, reduce water use and reclaim land faster.
Environmental Innovation in Action
When launched in 2012, COSIA was considered one of the most unique models of open innovation and collaboration in the world. It represents Canadian innovation and environmental leadership in action. Since 2012, through COSIA, our members have invested $1.8 billion to develop more than 1,100 technologies. Many of the solutions we advance have the potential to make a positive global impact.
Check out some examples of our work and how we aspire to be world leaders in water management below. To read about our innovation in other areas, click the blue button.
TRAINING MICROBES IN A LAB
Did you know that one of the things certain microbes can do is clean up water from industrial processes by breaking down contaminants? That's exactly what Mathijs Martens and her friends decided to explore. The three friends, who had specialized in biotechnology, later founded a start-up company, OPE Group.
COSIA gave the OPE Group the go-ahead in 2019 and the company began searching for naturally occurring microbes that had a natural ability to break down contaminants in process water. By selectively modifying the environment within bioreactors and altering things like temperature and acidity, the OPE Group can increase the diversity of these microbe communities and encourage them to adapt to different conditions. “We force the microbes to evolve and perform better,” Martens said.
WATER MANAGEMENT 101
Water is used for a variety of purposes in the oil sands, including for drilling, utility boilers and in camps and offices; however the majority is used to extract bitumen. Surface mining operations use warm water to separate the bitumen from sand and clay materials. In situ (in place) facilities generate steam that is forced below ground to heat the bitumen so that it can be pumped to the surface.
Afterwards, the majority of the water used in oil sands facilities is stored and reused over and over. Up to 85 per cent of water is recycled in mining operations and up to 90 per cent in in situ operations.
SUNLIGHT DRIVES NOVEL PROCESS TO CLEAN UP WATER
Imagine using sunlight to treat industrial water so that it’s clean and safe for aquatic life. It sounds almost too far-fetched to be true. But one Canadian clean tech company has a novel technology called SolarPass that is doing exactly that. To date, SolarPass technology has performed well in the lab and demonstrated good results in an indoor study. Now, the company, H2nanO, is testing the technology’s viability in a large outdoor pilot in collaboration with oil sands producer Canadian Natural to see if it also works well in commercial operations.
“We’ve validated the technology works at a smaller scale,” says Theo Paradis, Technical Project Lead for Canadian Natural. “Now we need to validate this technology at a larger scale, but so far, it is looking pretty good.”
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A catalyst for better environmental outcomes
From exciting new scientific discoveries to game-changing technologies (and everything in between), our focus is on innovation. Explore research, innovation opportunities and projects within our priority areas. Or, submit an idea for consideration.