GEA Westfalia Separator Group centrifuges were first used for oil sands mining back in 1967. Today, they are dependent upon for the reliable, low cost treatment of petroleum products as well as treatment of the by-products of these processes.
Oil sands mining represents a relatively new area for centrifuge use. The result has been further development of tried-and-tested solutions used in other oilfield applications as well as some innovative new technology. Equipment can be used in conventional truck & shovel operations as well as the more recently introduced stream-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) process.
GEA Westfalia Separator Group offers individual machines and complete processing systems that comply with the most stringent environmental requirements and feature space saving designs. Our centrifuges handle separations over a wide range of capacities and are designed to cope with the needs and circumstances presented on site effectively and economically.
To extract the 10% of bitumen present in oil sands, the sand must first be mixed with hot water. Adding water causes the bitumen to adhere air bubbles that float to the top of large containment vessels. The product of this process, called froth, contains other substances besides bitumen, like fine sand and clay. It is very vicious substance that must first be treated with naphtha before further processing can occur.
After naphtha treatment, the diluted bitumen goes through a horizontal decanter centrifuge. During this initial separation, mineral concentration is reduced from 10% to 3-4%. Decanters from GEA Westfalia Separator Group are ideally suited for this application with capacities up to 300 m³/hr.
The diluted bitumen enters the decanter via a feed tube. Separated solids and clarified bitumen are discharged via gravity.
After the primary bitumen separation, additional processing is required to further reduce solids and water in the diluted bitumen. This additional purification, to levels acceptable for upgrading, is accomplished using nozzle bowl disc stack centrifuges. At this point, the slurry feed to the centrifuge contains 30-40% water and up to 4% of fine sand and clay.
During this stage of the process, the goal is to reduce water content to below 3% and mineral content to below 0.5%. Nozzle centrifuges from GEA Westfalia Separator Group can achieve these targets with throughputs of 250 m³/hr.