Greenhouse Gases Innovation Opportunities

If you're an academic, researcher, innovator, inventor, entrepreneur, large company, or really anyone with an idea or potential innovation—we want to hear from you.

What is an innovation opportunity?

COSIA's Innovation Opportunities provide focused, actionable descriptions of the current state of opportunities related to environmental processes and impacts of the oil sands industry. Each represents a possibility that, if realized, would contribute towards the achievement of COSIA's environmental aspirations.

The Innovation Opportunities include research and technology opportunities, from incremental - because the small things add up - through to the game-changers with the potential to propel industry forward.


Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse Gases

Direct Hot Water Production for an Oil Sands Mining & Extraction Process
The COSIA Greenhouse Gas Environmental Priority Area has identified Direct Hot Water Production as a technology which could improve the environmental performance of mineable oil sands. New technology is sought which could replace conventional hot water production approaches, which use economizers or low grade steam, in either new or existing mining operations.
Higher Value Use of Low Grade Heat
COSIA’s GHG Environmental Priority Area Steering Committee is seeking technologies that create value from excess low grade heat resulting from Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) oil sands production and/or related surface facility operations.
Natural Gas Decarbonization
The COSIA GHG Environmental Priority Area (EPA) Steering Committee (SC) has identified natural gas decarbonization as an opportunity area in which to explore for technologies that will materially reduce oil sands GHG emissions. These technologies will partially or completely remove the carbon content of natural gas. The emissions associated with producing the decarbonized gas, plus the emissions from combusting the decarbonized gas, will be less than the emissions from combusting natural gas.
Water and Energy Recovery from Flue Gas
The COSIA GHG Environmental Priority Area Steering Committee is seeking leading edge technologies that capture water vapour and waste heat from flue gas from natural gas combustion. The successful technology will provide valuable high grade heat to be integrated into the processing facility and produce clean water as condensate that can be used for steam production. Ideally the technology could be retrofitted to existing combustion equipment.
New Heat Exchanger Technology
COSIA’s GHG Environmental Priority Area Steering Committee is seeking technology which could replace heat exchanger technology in either new or existing thermal in situ operations.
Energy from Pressure Letdown
The COSIA Greenhouse Gas Environmental Priority Area Steering Committee has identified Energy from Pressure Letdown as a technology area which could improve the environmental performance of the oil sands. COSIA seeks a new technology which could capture energy, likely power, at a small scale (e.g. 500 KW – 3 MW) when delivering high or medium pressure energy source through pressure let downs.
New Steam Generation Design
Upgrade existing OTSG's with OTSG new equipment, equipment modifications, and operating practices to improve the energy efficiency of steam production.
Optimizing Water Energy Balance
COSIA's Water EPA is advancing breakthrough water treatment technologies, many of which would reduce GHG emissions. COSIA's GHG EPA is working closely with the Water EPA to coordinate the advancement of promising water technologies and understanding the associated GHG benefits, or implications. Successful closure of this gap is the identification and evaluation of water treatment technologies that deliver co-benefits for GHGs and water performance. More promising technologies could reduce GHG emissions by up to 5%.
Optimizing Facility Energy Balance
An opportunity exists to minimize energy losses through the implementation of more efficient process technologies and by optimizing the reuse of energy losses within the facility. Existing knowledge gaps are related to energy losses at current in situ facilities, as well as the optimal design of heat exchanger networks and other process operations for maximum energy recovery and potentially seasonal storage. Successful closure of this gap is identifying cost effective options for minimizing heat losses and maximizing integration, potentially including low cost heat storage during summer months.
Low/No Carbon Alternate to Diesel Fuel
The opportunity exists to reduce the use of diesel fuel and associated GHG emissions from transportation of raw bitumen from the mine face to extraction processes. This could be through improvements in vehicle efficiency or alternative fuel sources. Renewable diesel and electricity are not excluded as a fuel source.
Optimize Fleet Utilization and Design
Reduction in GHG emissions is realized when the utilization of the mine fleet improves. Improved utilization is reflected in shorter hauls, reduced cycle times, adapting to, managing or preparing for extreme weather conditions, ore blending, fixed plant location and increased equipment availability. In short, reduce non-productive fuel burn. This includes advances in mobile crushing and advanced analytics. Successful closure of this gap means reducing GHG emissions through demonstrated world class mine fleet availability and utilization.
Mine Fleet Engine Efficiency Improvements
Support continual improvement in engine design and efficiency to realize reduced GHG emissions. Successful closure of this gap would result in decreased fuel consumption per operating hour, including idling, when running full, empty and on inclines or declines.
Optimize Ore Handling & Quantity Benefits
Alternatives to the current oil sands operating standard of using truck and shovels to handle all material are currently an opportunity for innovation. Multiple methods of handling material exist that could be applied to handling of ore, certain tailings streams and construction materials. The main drivers for this work are that (a) There have been significant advances in the operating scale, reliability and cost of most of the ore handling technologies and (b) Many ore handling methods (often used in other mining industries) have not been evaluated for oil sands operations. Opportunities therefore exist to optimize both the operation and cost of the current model of material handling.
Post Combustion Capture Processes
Activities in this opportunity will increase understanding of how to dramatically reduce the cost of capture, especially CAPEX, from diluted CO2 streams (<8 vol%), and how the most advanced and emerging Post Combustion Capture (PCC) technologies and processes can be economically applied to current oil sands production. Also of interest is the identification and development of promising early technology readiness level (TRL) processes and technologies for CO2 capture at a significantly lower cost (OPEX and CAPEX).
Oxy-fuel Combustion
Activities to close this gap will focus on decreasing the costs of oxygen enrichment technologies and improving their integration with oil sands facilities. Material energy efficiency improvements will also be targeted and could be achieved through lower energy intensity oxygen (O2) production.
Understand Available CO2 Storage Capacity
A better understanding of storage opportunities will support field trials and longer-term CO2 storage. Activities to close this gap consist of studies, assessments of the characteristics of potential CO2 storage sites in the Athabasca region and study the storage of CO2 in hydrate form. If these studies or evaluation show a cost effective and safe storage, pilot tests in single wells or multiple wells would follow as a future JIP.
Optimal CO2 Transport System Design
The assessment of the optimal CO2 transport system design is an enabler to identify low cost opportunities to accelerate carbon capture in the Fort McMurray, Edmonton, and Lac La Biche regions. Successful closure of this gap is identifying promising technologies for design and implementation in 2019 and beyond. Products that could be used locally are of preference.
CO2 Conversion
Activities to close this gap will focus on new technologies that can take CO2 or raw flue gas and make a value added, saleable, product.
Other Use of Biomass
The assessment of biomass/biofuels and combustion technologies will identify biomass availability, supply options, and opportunities for potential application to oil sands facilities. Successful closure of this gap means determining the sources and volumes of available biomass as a first step. Assuming promising results, supply chain logistics would be evaluated along with assessing existing and new biomass combustion and conversion technologies. It is estimated that biomass could improve a facility's GHG intensity by 2070%.