|Register new user        
|Forgot your password?
GEA Westfalia Separator Group
Bookmark / Forward / Print

Oil Sands Processing

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.

Centrifuge applications in oil sands mining

Initial diluted bitumen treatment

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.

Decanter CA 1035

Features of the CA 1035

  • Long bowl configuration for maximum solids removal
  • Deep pool design
  • Inert gas blanketing
  • Field replaceable wear inserts for solids discharge
  • Feed-zone optimized to minimize formation of emulsions
  • Scroll protection with tungsten carbide tiles
  • Optional ceramic tile bowl lining for erosion protection
  • Variable scroll differential speed

Further diluted bitumen processing

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. 

Features of the ODB 260 – crude oil version

  • Pressurized discharge of the purified bitumen
  • Inert gas blanketing
  • Gravity discharge of the heavy phase via a separating disc and fixed ring dam
  • Field replaceable wear liners in concentrate catcher in hood
  • Combination recycle cone and bowl bottom wear liner
  • Pressurized version offers higher process temperature capability
  • Available with patented flute insert wear protectors
  • Direct drive without belts
  • Machines supplied either as stand-alone units or as modules, fully piped and wired
  • Suitable for installation in hazardous environments
  • Convertible to produced water design

ODB 260