Showing posts with label color bitumen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label color bitumen. Show all posts

October 22, 2012

Bitumen from Tar Sands

I am a fifth-grader going to Walker Upper Elementary School. My friend and I are doing a project on the Athabasca Tar Sands. It is an independent project from school. I became interested in the Athabasca Tar Sands when my grandfather and step-grandmother went to the White House to protest against the Canadian pipeline.

This is what we found out. Tar sands are bitumen, which is a very high-viscosity petroleum, mixed with sand, water and clay. First, the oil drilling company has to remove the sand, water and clay from the bitumen and then has to dilute the bitumen and pump it out. After that, they have to pump out the water or natural gas used in diluting. Then they process the bitumen into conventional crude oil. This part of the process emits some greenhouse gases. Two tons of tar sands equal one barrel of oil (42 gallons).

The company may also use propane gas to dilute the bitumen to pump it out. This is a costly way to go but more environmental and efficient. The propane gas used can be recycled (another benefit). Not many companies use this method right now but maybe the public can persuade them to change.

When companies use water to extract and dilute the bitumen, the water becomes polluted. The water usually comes from a stream, so the fish living in it may die because of the toxic metals in the water. Some researchers found that a moose near the stream flowing from the tar sands had abnormal rates of arsenic in its body. Fish embryos were also shown to have a deformity rate when exposed to tar sands chemicals. The humans living near the excavation site and contaminated river can be negatively affected. They may have higher rates of cancer than normal.

As I said earlier, the production of bitumen emits greenhouse gases. It actually emits more than the production of regular crude oil. The emissions are 20 percent greater when producing bitumen versus regular oil.

The Athabasca Tar Sands are also very close to Wood Buffalo National Park and that will endanger the health and well-being of the animals.

My friend and I personally don’t agree with further production of tar sands because, even with the propane gas method, the companies are still adding more oil to the world to burn and pollute with.

October 19, 2012

Shell exiting Vietnam bitumen Market

After pulling its LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) business out of Vietnam last week, Dutch energy and petrochemical company Shell is considering selling its two bitumen manufacturing plants in the country as well.

Shell currently runs one bitumen plant at the Go Dau Industrial Park in the southern province of Dong Nai, and one at the Cua Lo park in the northern province of Nghe An.

The Dutch company is reevaluating its bitumen sector in Vietnam, which is also included in its business strategy of withdrawing from liquefied petroleum gas, said Le Duy Thanh, CEO of Shell Vietnam.

Shell is aiming to develop in fewer markets but at a larger scale, Shell Vietnam said in a statement sent to its dealers nationwide when announcing the withdrawal on October 10.

Shell has transferred its entire share in a joint-venture in Hai Phong, and a Ho Chi Minh City-based company, 100 percent of whose stake it held, to Thailand’s Siam Gas Co, officially becoming the third global LPG brand names to leave the country, after Mobile Unique Gas and Castrol BP Petco.

The company is eying doubling its growth in the lubricant oil sector by 2015, and wants to enter the fuel market, if permitted by Vietnamese laws.

At present, only state-run enterprises are allowed to operate as fuel wholesalers, which import and distribute petroleum and oil commodities in Vietnam.

Source -Tuoitre News

October 2, 2012

Concrete or Asphalt - Besides the Economy

One of the questions you’ll hear drivers and crew chiefs asked a lot this weekend at Dover is how the concrete track affects the racing.  Here’s how:
 Concrete and asphalt are father and son.  They have in common what you and would call it “rocks”, but professionals call it “aggregate”.  Aggregate comes in a huge variety of types, depending on the materials from which the rocks are made, the quality of the material, the size of the rocks and the distribution of sizes of the rocks.

  Asphalt vs. Concrete

Concrete is an technically any mixture of rocks aggregate stuck together with a binder.  The type of binder determines the properties of the concrete and even the color.

Concrete is the oldest engineered construction material, dating back to the Roman Empire.   The reason only parts of the Roman Colosseum and the Pantheon are missing have more to do with humans than the failure of the materials.  Today’s concrete is more than ten times stronger than the version the Romans developed.
The most common binder in the concrete used in roads, parking lots and sidewalks is Portland cement.  Portland cement (and its close relatives) are mixtures of  limestone and clay, which are crushed to a powder and heated to over 2700 degrees Fahrenheit.  This is the form you buy it in.  To use is, you reconstitute the dry powder with water, and the individual grains form calcium-silicate-hydrate (C-S-H) bonds that make a very strong glue.

Asphalt is a type of concrete, that uses bitumen — tarry black stuff — to hold it all together.   A typical composition for asphalt is 80% aggregate, 15% binder and 5% air voids.  Bitumen comes from the heaviest components of crude oil, and has the consistency of molasses (which is why it has to be heated before being used).   Because bitumen derives from oil, the price of asphalt changes with the price of oil.

But Which is Better?

As with most “which is better”, the answer depends on what you what to use it for.  The primary difference between asphalt and concrete is the rigidity of the two materials and how they distribute the load over the base on which they are laid.   The more rigid the pavement, the more the load is distributed over the surface when something like a car move over it.

Asphalt, which is more flexible (relative to concrete), transmits higher, more concentrated loads to the base, as shown below.  I’ve drawn the stress distributions in red.  The concrete spreads out the stress over a larger area, while the asphalt transmits stress to a narrows area.  The narrower area and the same load means that the stress is more concentrated.

Because concrete is stronger, asphalt has to be thicker to get the same rigidity.  Asphalt does have an advantage, however, in that its flexibility allows it to expand and contract with temperature changes with less cracking.  Even so, concrete lasts 10-15 years longer than asphalt.

Asphalt is the traditional material for paved racing surfaces.  Only three Sprint Cup tracks feature concrete:  Dover, Martinsville and Bristol.  They have in common that they are all tracks of one mile or less with significant banking.  (OK – you may not view the 12 degree banking at Martinsville as ‘significant’, but those 12 degrees are the reason the corners are concrete while the rest of the track is asphalt.  The stress on the pavement in the corners necessitated replacing the original asphalt with concrete.)

Dover is one mile with 24-degree banking and Bristol is a little more than a half mile with 24-28 degree banking.  The steep banking and the tight curves make keeping asphalt in good racing condition a challenge.  Having concrete also gives a track a unique character – as well as the opportunity to have a really cool monster statue outside.

How Concrete Changes Racing

 Grip Level
The grip level can be very different between asphalt and concrete, depending on a lot of factors.   Concrete is inherently more grainy, and its surface can be patterned to create more grip.  Drivers talk about bumps in asphalt as being large and wavy, while bumps in concrete they describe as  more vibrational.  Concrete usually has to be laid down in sections, which means you can have those bumps like you find between slabs on a sidewalk.  The picture at left shows the Google Earth view of Dover’s surface and you can see the individual slabs.

The grip on an asphalt  track depends  on the type of aggregate used, the degree of wear and the character of the bitumen.

For example, Atlanta has a very rough surface because its bitumen wears faster than the aggregate, as I’ve shown at right.   When an asphalt track is first laid down, the surface is very level.  As the bitumen wears away, the tops of the uppermost layer of aggregate are exposed.  The sharp edges of the aggregate are worn down by the tires rubbing against the rocks, but the aggregate sticking out provides a lot of grip.  Eventually, enough bitumen wears away that the aggregate starts coming out, which weakens how well the track holds together and necessitates a re-pave.

Concrete doesn’t wear as fast as asphalt and thus the grip level doesn’t change as much over long periods of time.

Light and Heat

Would you believe that the color of the track makes a big difference in how the track races?
Light comes in a range of wavelengths from smaller than billionths of a meter to larger than billions of meters long.  Our eyes detect a very, very small fraction of that electromagnetic radiation in the nanometer (billionth of a meter) range.  From red to violet, the wavelength ranges from about 800 nanometers to 400 nanometers.  The light from the Sun contains a wide range of wavelengths, including ultraviolet light (UV) (which is smaller wavelength than visibile light), all the colors of the rainbow, and lots of infrared  (IR) radiation.

Our eyes don’t detect the UV or IR light – we see the mixture of all the different colors of light together, which makes white.  Artificial light (like fluorescent) generates a different mixture of wavelengths, which is why it looks different than sunlight.

You see the colors of objects because all materials absorb some wavelengths (colors) of light and reflect others.  When light hits a red object, as I’ve shown at left, all colors except red are absorbed and what comes to your eyes is just the red light.

White surfaces reflect a wide spectrum of wavelengths and absorb very little of the spectrum.  The light that is incident on a white surface is reflected back to our eyes and the broad spectrum of wavelengths we see as ‘white’.  Black is the opposite:  black absorbs a lot of different wavelengths, so very little reflects back to our eyes and we get black.

In addition to the visible light, the spectrum from the sun includes the aforementioned ultraviolet  and infrared waves.  Infrared radiation has longer wavelengths than red light.  We don’t see it – we sense it as heat.  You’ll notice that the lamps they use to keep food warm always have a red glow:  they output some visible light, but they mostly output heat .  You will never see food being kept warm by blue light.
How is all this relevant to a racecar?

Put a piece of black paper and a piece of white paper in the Sun and feel their surfaces after a few hours.   The black paper absorbs a lot of the radiation from the Sun and gets very warm.  The white paper doesn’t absorb as much of the Sun’s energy (although it does absorb some), so it stays relatively cooler.  If you measure the temperature of a track over the course of a race, it can change by tens of degrees depending on the weather.

One effect of the changing temperature is how hot the tires get.  If the track is 60 degrees vs. 120 degrees Fahrenheit, that generates a very noticeable level of change in the grip.  But even more importantly, bitumen (the binder in asphalt) is a petroleum product.  As the temperature rises, oils in the bitumen get warmer and make the track more slippery.   Portland cement is crushed-up rocks which (when dry) are not slippery at all.

The end result is that, a concrete track doesn’t change over the course of a race nearly as much as an asphalt track.  Crew chiefs say that the track at Dover is easier to ‘keep up with’ because changes in temperature over the course of the race don’t change the racing surface as much with concrete as they do with asphalt tracks.

The Nature of Friction

There are two types of friction .  The first, called abrasive friction, is the one you learned about in school.  This is the type of friction between sandpaper on a wood block.  The second kind (which I never know about until I wrote The Physics of NASCAR) is adhesive friction, which is the molecular-level stickiness of the track combining with the molecular-level stickiness of the tires.  The heat generated by the tires makes the topmost layer of the track gooey.  The outermost layer of the tire also becomes gooey, resulting in an effect very much like chewing gum stuck on your shoe on a hot sidewalk.  The gooeyness of the track  bonds with the gooeyness of the tires for microseconds and resists forward motion.  That’s grip.
The nature of adhesive friction on asphalt is very different than on concrete because the two materials are so very different.  Concrete has much less adhesive friction.  This doesn’t change the grip level so much (because the abrasive frictions are different) – however, it does make a big difference in what happens when you lose grip. Think about sticking a weight to a piece of wood with gum.  The asphalt surface would be really sticky gum and the concrete surface would be dried up, not-very-sticky gum.  If you turn the wood so that the surface is vertical, the stickier gum is going to hold better.
In terms of a racecar, Mark Martin pointed out:
“… when you lose grip on a concrete surface, you feel like you just got cut loose from a rope. It’s amazing. It’s like losing half of your grip, rather than about 20 or 30 percent that you lose on asphalt.”
All the drivers’ intuitions that are developed on asphalt – which comprise the vast majority of NASCAR tracks – are thus challenged when they drive on concrete.

So there you have it – not necessarily better or worse, just different.


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July 28, 2012

Will Bitumen Sink or Float - Spill Case Study

Kinder Morgan officials are denying that heavy oil sands bitumen – already carried by tanker through Vancouver harbour – would sink if it ever spilled in the ocean.

Grilled by Metro Vancouver politicians Thursday, company reps called it misinformation in the media that diluted bitumen sinks in water, making a marine spill cleanup virtually impossible.

"The diluted bitumen and other products don't sink," said Mike Davis, Kinder Morgan Canada's director of marine development and engineering. "They're less dense that sea water. They float."

He added any heavy crude oil could eventually sink if it "weathers" on the surface for too long, but added there's no indication that would happen if a bitumen spill was boomed and cleaned within a reasonable period of time.

Mayors at the Metro port cities committee said later they were surprised to hear the claim – and skeptical.
So was B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake when asked for comment."The prevailing view is that bitumen will sink rather than float," Lake said, but added more information might be needed.

The province's newly released technical report on heavy oil pipelines specifically lists bitumen's different properties  – and its potential to sink and complicate cleanup – as a source of higher risk.
Davis said the first trial shipments of bitumen from Alberta's oil sands via the Trans Mountain pipeline through the Lower Mainland began in the 1980s.

He estimated between 20 and 30 per cent of the 300,000 barrels per day now flowing down the pipeline is either diluted bitumen or similar types of heavy crude oil.

If federal regulators approve the company's plan to twin the 60-year-old pipeline and increase the capacity to 750,000 barrels, an estimated 300 tankers a year would go through Vancouver, up from about 70 now.
Kinder Morgan reps outlined tanker safety measures that include double hulls, segmented holds, two local pilots in command, the use of tethered tugs and a system to vet and inspect tankers for safety.

On land, Davis said staff fly the length of the pipeline in the Lower Mainland once a week and drive its length every two days in search of problems – in addition to the use of a leak detection system monitored out of Edmonton.

He also said the company wants feedback from Metro cities on what sort of legacy benefits they envision, a statement mayors saw as a prelude to cash offers to encourage their support.North Vancouver City Mayor Darrell Mussatto challenged Kinder Morgan to agree to an independent audit of spill response times on both land and water – something Davis wouldn't immediately commit to but said may be considered through the coming National Energy Board hearings.

Several mayors said they have little comfort in the emergency response capability after the incident in Burnaby in 2007, when oil gushed out of the pipeline after an excavator struck it.Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan noted the spill response agency – Western Canada Marine Response Corp.  – has just 22 full-time staff and eight part-time workers and would rely heavily on other vessels and fishermen in event of a spill.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said she's worried there could be finger pointing between Kinder Morgan and shippers as to who is responsible for a spill at or near the Burnaby terminal.Davis said booms are set up around tankers when they load, meaning any spill at the terminal would be contained. He called the 2007 spill's circumstances unique.

"They have to have a much, much more robust plan to deal with the potential eventualities," Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said later."I continue to be very concerned about emergency response plans and protocols within Burrard Inlet," said Belcarra Mayor Ralph Drew.

"I am still to be convinced that what is there is adequate for what's being transported today let alone future scaled-up shipments."Metro has not yet taken any position on the twinning project, although Vancouver, Burnaby and some other city councils have already opposed it.

  By Jeff Nagel - Surrey North Delta Leader

July 27, 2012

Polymer Modified Bitumen for Race Track

If you watch auto racing, you're aware that there have been several instances in recent years where events were interrupted when the race track itself began to come apart, creating an often dangerous situation.  There are several causes for this but one of the most likely causes is from the tire compounds produced by manufacturers that become stickier as they heat up in order to provide better grip for the race cars.  While there is better grip for the cars, the adhesion of the tires begins to lift the pavement.

At Russia's first major raceway just outside Moscow, Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc., Houston, and Russian oil company TNK Alfabit collaborated to develop a polymer-modified bitumen asphalt that is expected to withstand all types of high-speed racing.

"Kraton scientists in Amsterdam and the TNK Bitumen team worked closely together to develop the ideal TNK Alfabit binder formulation using Kraton D1192, which is one of the most technologically advanced and user-friendly polymer options for use in the manufacture of modified binder, "said Marek Kowalczyk, sales manager Eastern Europe for Kraton.  "Kraton D1192 offers enhanced polymer compatibility, and lower modified asphalt viscosity.  Its durability and resistance to aging result in high pavement quality that we believe will stand up to Moscow's regional climate of harsh winters and hot summers."

Source - Automotive Newswire

May 31, 2012

Paver Blocks or Bitumen

MUMBAI: Flouting recommendations of its own committees seems to have become a common practice for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Despite the Standing Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) advising against the use of paver blocks on major roads (more than 30-ft wide), the BMC, in a mad rush to complete road work before the monsoon arrives, is doing just the opposite: It has been laying major roads with paver blocks instead of asphalt or cement concrete.

TOI visited three wards—S (Bhandup), N (Vikhroli) and T (Mulund)—on Wednesday and found that the STAC's recommendation on use of paver blocks is being blatantly violated.

While the STAC had made it clear that paver blocks should only be used for side strips, footpaths, traffic junctions and narrow roads, the BMC is using the blocks on roads as wide as 60 feet in the three wards. Opposite Vijayvihar society in Powai, the civic body has used paver blocks on a 65-m stretch. At Hari Om Nagar in Mulund (E), a 45-ft wide road has been relaid using paver blocks for over a kilometre.

STAC chairman M V Merani said, "We have repeatedly told the civic body not to use paver blocks on wide roads. They are only meant for side strips, footpaths and one-lane roads which are narrow. Paver blocks are to be used where bitumen and cement concrete cannot be. We had specified two designs for laying of paver blocks, but contractors do not always follow them."

Civic officials said the process of laying paver blocks is easy and less time consuming. "Many times, the civic body uses paver blocks instead of asphalt or cement concrete just to meet the deadline. There have been instances when the BMC has realized only after starting the work that asphalting or concretizing of the road would not be possible," said an assistant engineer. Additional municipal commissioner Rajiv Jalota said, "Concretization or asphalting of roads has been stopped in some wards due to the presence of underground utilities." Interestingly, it is the responsibility of the civic roads department to get the clearances from all utilities before starting road work.

Contractors prefer using paver blocks as it is cheaper than concretizing the road.

Source- Times of India

April 23, 2012

Tar sands oil heading east? Controversial crude could make its way to New England via pipeline

David Dodge photo A Canadian tar sands oil mining operation as seen from the air.

The Keystone XL pipeline extension, which would transport an oil product known as "tar sands" to refineries on the Gulf Coast, has received a wealth of media attention this year.

However, the Keystone XL pipeline isn't the only transportation path for tar sands oil. Oil suppliers have explored a number of ways to move the controversial petroleum product to market, including pathways through the Northeast.

One of Canada's largest pipeline operators, Enbridge, Inc., developed a plan in 2008 to reverse one of its existing lines to begin moving tar sands oil east from Western Canada, where the industry is set to boom.

Enbridge's Line 9, which starts in the western part of the country, would be capable of delivering tar sands oil to Montreal if the company reversed the flow of the entire line.

Enbridge proposed doing just that four years ago with it's so-called "Trailbreaker" project.

To move the tar sands oil on the final leg of the journey from Montreal to Maine, the company proposed utilizing the existing Portland-Montreal Pipe Line.

PMPL stretches more than 200 miles, cutting through Vermont and northern New Hampshire. It currently transports crude in the other direction, from Maine to Montreal.

Enbridge officials have since scrapped the Trailbreaker project, citing a sour economy. But environmental groups in both Canada and the United States believe recent actions indicate the company is working to revive the proposal incrementally.

Recently, Enbridge filed a request with Canada's National Energy Board to reverse the flow of oil in a segment of Line 9, which connects Sarnia and Westover in Ontario.

Enbridge spokesperson Jennifer Varey said the company is making the move in order to begin transporting light crude to a facility in Westover.

Varey said Line 9's future use will be dictated by the demands of shippers, and Enbridge has not determined whether to request permission from Canadian officials to reverse the entire pipeline.

"It's one of those things where, if the market demand is there, there is the possibility that we would be bringing Canadian oil to those markets," in the Northeast, she said.

In addition to the activity around Line 9, environmental groups in Canada have been following developments near Montreal, where the operator of the Portland-Montreal Pipeline is seeking to build a new pumping station.

That pumping station would provide the necessary machinery to push oil over a range of mountains near the Vermont border, which would be an impediment if the flow of the pipeline is reversed.

However, the company has lost legal battles over its request in at least two Canadian courts — most recently from the Court of Quebec.

"The project itself of reversing the flow of the pipeline, at this time, is not moving forward because the market conditions, at this time, do not warrant that project to move forward," said Denis Boucher, a PMPL spokesperson.

However, Dylan Voorhees, director of the clean energy project at the Natural Resources Council of Maine, which was been following the issue, worries it's only a matter of time before the pipeline operators decide to renew the project.

Voorhees said the situation is concerning because moving tar sands presents a greater risk for an oil spill than moving conventional crude oil.

Tar sands is more acidic — and therefore more corrosive — than conventional crude oil, and it must be transported at hotter temperatures and faster speeds, according to Voorhees.

"I think that's one of the concerns that people in New Hampshire might have, is, 'What are the resources and special places that this pipe passes through?'" Voorhees said.

Tar sands, referred to as oil sands in Canada, are a combination of clay, sand, water and bitumen — a heavy, black, asphalt-like substance. Tar sands can be mined and processed to extract the bitumen, which is then refined into oil.

The bitumen in tar sands cannot be pumped from the ground in its natural state. Instead, tar sand deposits are mined, usually using strip mining or open pit techniques, or the oil is extracted by underground heating, according to information available from the U.S. Department of Interior.

As a result of the more energy-intensive extraction techniques, environmental groups argue the production of fuels derived from tar sands is more damaging to the environment than crude oil extraction.

California was set to become the first state in the country to implement a low-carbon fuel standard this year, which could have significant consequences for producers of tar sands products.

The standard would impose penalties on fuel suppliers who ship products with a higher "carbon intensity," like tar sands-derived gasoline, to California. Money collected through the program would support production of cleaner fuel sources.

New Hampshire is among 11 states in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic considering a similar program called the Clean Fuels Standard, which has been in development for nearly five years.

Arthur Marin is executive director of Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), the group developing the Clean Fuels Standard.

Until this year, he said, the group had been modeling its design on the California fuel standard, but recent developments in the Golden State have cast doubt on the constitutionality of the program.

Opponents challenged the program in court in December, arguing the fuel standard violates the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution because it attempts to impose a penalty for extraction techniques used in Canada, outside of the state's borders.

With California's program facing an uncertain future, NESCAUM is now examining alternative models for a low-carbon fuel standard, Marin said.

Marin said those involved with the project are realistic about the inevitable rise of tar sands-derived fuel production.

"We've had many discussions with representatives from Alberta, from the oil companies ... and I think everyone understands that that's a potential new source of oil that's going to be playing in the United States market," he said.

Last month, the non-partisan, nonprofit news group InsideClimate News reported that New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney and his counterparts in the other NESCAUM states were recently contacted by an oil industry group regarding the uncertainty over California's standard.

The oil industry has also taken an interest in developments in the New Hampshire Legislature. Last month, the House passed bills that would pull New Hampshire out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, an air quality compact, and free it from any commitment to the low-carbon fuel standard.

HB1487, the bill barring the state from adopting the Clean Fuel Standard, passed the House on a 243-96 vote.

Rep. James Garrity, chairman of the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee, said he helped to promote HB1487 because his time in the Legislature has given him insight into the drawbacks of participating in regulatory pacts like RGGI. Garrity said opponents object to the program because it relies on a "central-planning, state-directed" approach to developing clean fuels.

"We're making the message clear to the rest of the New England states," he said. "New Hampshire's not going to go there."

One of the state's representatives in the regional fuel standard talks, Mike Fitzgerald, called the House bill "somewhat unfortunate." Environmental regulations such as the low-carbon fuel standard must be adopted broadly to be effective, he said, and New Hampshire's primary leverage in the discussions has been the fact that it might or might not participate.

The House bill does not prevent the state from helping to draft the fuel standard. But if New Hampshire declares it won't cooperate, the state will be in a weaker position to shape the regulations, which could have an impact on fuel prices.

One of New Hampshire's primary concerns in the ongoing discussions is ensuring the standard doesn't increase the price of gasoline or diesel fuel, according to Fitzgerald.

"Obviously, the state is looking at what can we do to mitigate climate change, and so there would be, potentially, some balancing of economic and environmental interests," he said, "but obviously, if there was something that was going to significantly impact the price of petroleum and diesel and gasoline, that would be a major concern." Although the prospect of tar sands piping through New Hampshire's north country remains hypothetical, Garrity said he would back initiatives to ship the product through the state, and oppose new efforts to curtail tar sands production.

"Tar sands oil is no different from oil coming from Texas or Saudi Arabia," he said. "It's all refined into the same product, so what I get at the pump is gasoline. What I get is number two fuel oil in my fuel tank. When your prevailing world view is all fossil fuels are evil, nothing but zero will satisfy."


Source - Fosters

April 12, 2012

Water to Produce Petroleum

Subir Bhattacharjee — a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Alberta and one of Canada’s top water quality experts — tells Circle of Blue about the water cycle of the tar sands. 

Suncor refinery, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada tar sands oil
Photo © J. Carl Ganter / Circle of Blue
The Suncor refinery in Edmonton, Alberta produces 135,000 barrels per day of light oils from tar sands-based crude.
With astonishing speed, and considerable risk to water supplies and wild lands, the global energy industry is massing to significantly reduce imports and push North America higher on the list of the world’s top oil-producing regions. Canada’s tar sands — which are located beneath a Florida-sized stretch of northern Alberta — are a big reason why energy economists are convinced that such a huge change in the sources and geopolitics of oil is possible. Energy companies are converting bitumen, the asphalt-like compound embedded in the tar sands, into 1.5 million barrels of oil a day, three-quarters of which is exported to the U.S as fuel or raw synthetic petroleum.

But converting bitumen to fuel involves enormous open-pit or steam-injecting mining operations that are reshaping a forested landscape, sharply increasing pollution, and consuming huge quantities of fresh water. The toll on the environment, especially on the region’s water supply, is awakening vigorous public opposition and prompting the major companies to undertake new fields of research to reduce water contamination and consumption.

In March, J. Carl Ganter, Circle of Blue’s director, attended a high-level conference in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, and interviewed Subir Bhattacharjee, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Alberta. One of Canada’s top water quality experts, Bhattacharjee is developing new technology and practices to prevent tar sands development from polluting northern Alberta’s freshwater reserves.
Circle of Blue: Let’s start with What is petroleum-produced water?
Subir Bhattacharjee: When you produce petroleum you basically produce a lot of water along with it. In conventional petroleum processing, the water is essentially either re-injected back underground or you use it for another kind of an industrial use. In Alberta, we use water to produce petroleum. In some of those applications, you are injecting water underground or you are injecting steam underground. You take the oil and water back up above ground. This oil and water are mixed together. Separating the water and recycling it to recover more oil becomes a very expensive process — we work on trying to clean up this water, which we call “produced water.”
There are interesting ironies with produced water; with creating the steam and treating the water afterwards. Describe the process for me.
Subir Bhattacharjee: The enhanced oil recovery processes that we have in Alberta use water in the form of steam to inject underground. It reduces the viscosity — which is the flow-ability of the oil — and makes it more easily extractable from the underground formations. When that oil and water come out of the ground, you need to separate the oil. That’s the value stream. You convert that oil to whatever you can sell, but you take the water back. This water is contaminated with all the organic molecules and the solutes and the salt that was underground.
In mining bitumen, you do not dispose any water: you store all the water, because the policy is zero liquid discharge. That’s the reason we have about 750 million cubic meters (198 billion gallons) of tailings ponds, which is growing in Alberta. It’s a legacy that we have, because we always had a policy that there was no need to treat the water.
You need to clean it up, so it can be fed into a boiler that will make it steam. This is a very energy-intensive process, especially when you have water-treatment technologies that are conventional and require you to bring the temperature of the water down to very low values, to make it amenable to treatment by these technologies. Then you have to heat this water back to steam. That also involves a lot of energy. This a very interesting facet of the global challenge when you are producing energy: how much water you are consuming. And how much energy you have to spend to clean that water back up.
In the context of oil sands production, this is a very challenging issue. You are using a very clean-burning hydrocarbon like natural gas to produce oil. There should be some questions asked about the use of one type of fuel to produce another type of fuel. Now again, I think one of the rationales is that the fuel that we produce is a transportation fuel, and its value should be differently assessed compared to natural gas, which is not traditionally a transportation fuel.
You have a lot of great numbers to share. Give us a sense of the most important ones.
Subir Bhattacharjee: Oil sands production has two different flavors of technology that’s used. One is mining. The other is steam flooding or steam-assisted gravity. Mining uses surface water, and it is quite water intensive. The total water requirement to produce a barrel of bitumen would be approximately 17 to 19 barrels, according to most estimates. A lot of this water is held in tailings ponds and is recycled back to the process. So, what you have is the net water intake. The net freshwater intake for these plants is about 1.8 to 2.4 barrels for each barrel of bitumen produced. If you start out a new bitumen operation, a lot of water is needed. As a plant gets normalized and starts operating in its regular cycle. it uses less and less fresh water. But that number, according to most companies, is not less than 1.8 to approximately two barrels of water per barrel of bitumen.
Dr. Subir Bhattacharjee University of Alberta tar sands canada
Photo © J. Carl Ganter / Circle of Blue
Dr. Subir Bhattacharjee in his laboratory at the University of Alberta.
The steam-assisted gravity drainage is a slightly different story. To produce a barrel of bitumen, you need a total of three barrels of water to be boiled to produce steam. The process will not make economic sense, if the steam-to-oil ratio goes anywhere above five barrels of water per barrel of oil. Given that steam oil ratio of three-to-one, with a 90 percent recycle regimen, the amount of water required inside the operations is never more than .3 to .4 barrels per barrel of bitumen — so, this is a much lower water footprint than the mining. There is also less water to dispose of.
In mining bitumen, you do not dispose any water: you store all the water, because the policy is zero liquid discharge. That’s the reason we have about 750 million cubic meters (198 billion gallons) of tailings ponds, which is growing in Alberta. It’s a legacy that we have, because we always had a policy that there was no need to treat the water.
Give me a description of our state of hydrocarbons: the belief was that we were reaching peak oil. But maybe it’s peak water that will be defined by how much water we have and how we manage our water.
Subir Bhattacharjee: That’s a very interesting point. What’s the choke point? Is it that we will not be able to drive our vehicles? Do we choke ourselves with the carbon dioxide produced by burning the fuel? Or is it that we won’t have enough water to produce the fuel in the first place? My short answer is that I don’t have a very clear idea. Globally, we have a fixed amount of total water in various geographical regions. In certain places you may have sufficient water to produce oil, but the water is coming from a very saline groundwater formation. To clean it up — to reduce the salt content to a level where it is more amenable to processing oil — is a huge energy consumer. Or you are in a water-stressed region that has enough water for producing oil, but does not have enough to grow crops: so how would you allocate that water? Would you transport it to first produce the crop and send it back to produce oil? Or can someone use water that has been contaminated by oil, treat it, and actually use it for agriculture?
These questions will be big driving issues in terms of water being the choke point, the decisive factor that will decide the price of oil. It’s not yet there, but, most likely, the price of water will dictate what the price of oil is.
You said something that’s absolutely key: the price of oil may be defined, and, in some cases probably already is, by the actual price or the cost of managing water. What’s missing is that it’s an inside conversation, not a public conversation.
Water consumption and oil production do not get that much attention, except in Alberta. The issue is twofold. The cost of production decides what technology will be able to recover a certain type of oil. Until oil went to about $US 36 a barrel, there was very little interest in Alberta’s oil sands. Recovery of a new type of oil only becomes feasible economically at a certain price point for oil.
These questions will be big driving issues in terms of water being the choke point, the decisive factor that will decide the price of oil. It’s not yet there, but, most likely, the price of water will dictate what the price of oil is.
So, if you take that argument the other way, you basically say that the cost of water and the cost of energy to produce a barrel of oil has a strong correlation with the current price of oil. So, what you are seeing is that the price of oil reflects the price of the other commodities that have been used to produce that oil. By the way, I don’t see hydrocarbon resources depleted anytime soon. We’ll find new types of hydrocarbon resources.
What’s the big story in technology? What do you expect in the next five years in water-treatment technology, with oil pulling chemicals out of the water or even treating water for municipal use and for personal use?
Subir Bhattacharjee: So much has been developed in terms of technology. Water treatment as a field is very mature, with extremely advanced technologies — we have an amazing array of technologies that can treat water. The best future for water technologies is when the proponents of these technologies can come up with a way of optimizing the use of these technologies. I hope they tailor a set of technologies, where one plus one doesn’t add up to just two, but one plus one is chosen in such a way that the benefit becomes more than two. There are quite a few ideas around that have immediate effects, in terms of reducing the cost of treatment or dramatically improving water quality with a lower energy footprint. There will be small paradigm shifts over the next decade, which relate to getting distributed water sources for people who are in different locations. [For example,] coastal communities around the world will have to start looking at saline water to get their drinking water, [since] the cost of transporting water from inland over a long distance to coastal communities is starting to make less and less sense.

Source- Circle Blue

April 10, 2012

CRMB For Georgia

New road specifications to allow for reuse of Georgia's scrap tires as asphalt PDF Print E-mail
New road specifications to allow for reuse of Georgia's scrap tires as asphalt - Bitumen EngineeringAbstract:
Georgia Department of Transportation, USA changed the road construction specifications and included rubberized asphalt / asphalt rubber as a polymer modified binder. Crumb rubber will be widely used from now in durable pavements.

Georgia state Rep. Randy Nix is pleased to announce that the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has amended the state's road construction specifications to include recycled tire rubber as an alternative to conventional oil-based polymers for road asphalt production.  Recycled tire rubber will be in widespread use as early as the 2012 paving season.  Rubberized asphalt roads save money by reducing dependence on oil and will help Georgians reduce waste by recycling millions of scrap tires annually.

"Tires are manufactured in large quantities and with great durability.  By reclaiming tire rubber for asphalt roads, we can repurpose that durability and provide a beneficial outlet for this problematic waste material," said Rep. Nix, vice chairman of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee.  "And by sourcing tire rubber from within the state, Georgia will not only experience environmental benefits but create jobs.  Oil-based polymers are brought here from other states and countries. Recycled rubber is sourced internally, so all dollars stay right here in Georgia."

The initiative to change Georgia's specs to include recycled tire rubber was the result of a promise Rep. Nix made to the Georgia House of Representatives last year. When Rep. Nix asked the House to approve legislation to renew the $1 used tire fee that supports the Solid Waste Trust Fund, he promised to find a solution for the scrap tire problem. After consulting with the House and Senate Transportation Committees and GDOT, Nix sought the expertise of Liberty Tire Recycling, Lehigh Technologies, and Blacklidge Emulsions. With new test data from the national organizations, GDOT accelerated its approval of the process and will have recycled tire rubber specs available for asphalt road jobs bid in April 2012.

"I wish to thank GDOT Commissioner Keith Golden, Chairman Jay Roberts of the House Transportation Committee, and a special thanks to Chairman Jeff Mullis of the Senate Transportation Committee, for helping me deliver on my promise," Rep. Nix said.  "In addition to addressing the scrap tire problem, Georgia will derive many benefits through this cooperative effort for years to come."

High-performance rubberized asphalt saves money by requiring less pavement thickness to withstand the same amount of traffic as conventional asphalt, as well as by replacing higher-cost oil-based polymers.  Rubberized asphalt also requires less maintenance over the life of the road.  To enhance safety, rubberized asphalt allows water to drain away from the roadway, thereby reducing splash and spray.  Rubberized asphalt also reduces the level of road noise for nearby residents by as much as 4 decibels.

"Liberty Tire Recycling and our partners are excited to work with GDOT to create longer-lasting, safer roads for Georgia residents and visitors," said Dick Gust, director of government affairs for Liberty Tire Recycling, the premier provider of tire recycling services in North America.  "Rubberized asphalt is a technology backed by decades of research and development, but it takes forward-thinking government officials like Reps. Nix and Roberts, Sen. Mullis and Commissioner Golden to bring an initiative like this to fruition."

Liberty Tire Recycling has also worked with state officials and community partners in recent years to clean up thousands of tires spread across illegal tire dumps throughout the city.  Illegal tire dumping is a major problem in Georgia, with $700,000 allocated in next year's budget just for cleanup.  If just 10 percent of Georgia's road projects were constructed with recycled tire rubber, all of the tires Georgians generate each year would be reclaimed and recycled.

Anon: State Rep. Randy Nix Praises Amendment of Road Specifications to Allow for Reuse of Georgia's Scrap Tires as Asphalt, PR Newswire, March 28, 2012.

Source- bitumenengineering

October 17, 2011

Bitumen Shortage in South Africa

A disaster is looming in the local asphalt industry as supply of bitumen from South African refineries has all but dried up, says Much Asphalt CEO and Southern Africa Bitumen Association chairperson Phillip Hechter.

Bitumen is used to produce asphalt, which is used in road construction.
Not only will the shortage hamper road construction, warns Hechter, it may also lead to job losses within the industry, and the closure of a number of small contractors.
He says the current shortage has cost the asphalt industry and its customers R2.3-billion to date, not to mention the unquantified costs of roads falling even deeper into disrepair, and the closure of smaller companies.

“I have had a number of smaller contractors phone and say that if the situation does not improve soon they will have to close their doors. I know companies are asking employees to take leave – we are – and putting employees on short time. Much Asphalt has 17 asphalt plants around the country. Fourteen of them have been standing idle for the last few days. The other three have very limited supplies of bitumen and will also stop operations by the weekend. I have absolutely no doubt other manufacturers are in the same predicament.

“In 31 years in this industry I have never experienced a situation like this one. Natref is the only refinery that has any bitumen and they are only feeding one or two loads per day into the system and that is for the whole country. I can foresee this situation continuing for the next four to six months.”
The current shortage of supply started with a fire at the Engen refinery in Durban on October 10, with the operation now in shutdown until November 23, and bitumen only expected to flow at the beginning of December.

Following a lengthy shutdown period, the Sapref refinery was suppose to be online with bitumen supply on October 15, but it now appears as if this may only happen on October 25.
Bitumen stock at Chevron, Cape Town, was depleted by October 4, as demand outstripped supply, and the bitumen plant has been experiencing problems.

The only remaining refinery, Natref, is now left to cope with excessive demand on its systems, with the situation expected to improve somewhat in late November.
Hechter says the only solution to the problem is to import bitumen.
“This is not as simple as it sounds, but circumstances may force our hand.”
A list of bitumen customers presented to Engineering News Online hints at a number of road construction projects placed in jeopardy by the bitumen shortage. They include work on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, such as work on the N12, Johannesburg’s bus rapid transport project, the R23 in Standerton, the John Ross highway, in Kwazulu-Natal, and the N7 at Piketberg, to name but a few.


The Cape Chamber of Commerce has also noted their concern about the continuing bitumen shortage in South Africa. The current situation is not a new one, and is similar to a shortage experienced in the first half of 2010.

The chamber notes that there “may not be enough bitumen available for the construction of the N1 and N2 Winelands toll roads, as well as to maintain existing roads” in the Western Cape.
“There has been a shortage of bitumen for several years and this has led to costly delays in construction projects and even the repair of potholes,” says chamber president Michael Bagraim.

He points out that the Gauteng toll road project has been held up “several times” because of the shortage of bitumen, which has been one of the factors which has increased costs on the project.

“The toll-road delays were just the most visible part of the problem. Other projects had to compete for bitumen supplies and, because they were smaller, they frequently came off second best to the toll-road contractors.”

Bagraim says a similar situation is likely in the Western Cape. He says it is questionable whether there will be enough bitumen available in the Cape for the municipalities to maintain their roads while the big N1, N2 project gobbled up most of the local supplies.
He adds that evidence of the already existing supply shortage can be seen on Boyes Drive, where construction equipment has been standing idle for days because there is no bitumen available.
“The situation will become much worse when work starts on the toll roads. It will force up the cost of every other road construction project and there will be even more days when plant stands idle and workers twiddle their thumbs because the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) has grabbed all the available bitumen,” says Bagraim.
According to his sources, there has been a shortage of bitumen for several years, with deficits of 20% to 35% in some months over the last five years.

“Under the circumstances it may be advisable to delay the Cape toll road projects until there is sufficient bitumen available to do the job without damaging other sectors of the economy,” notes Bagraim.
Construction on the project is expected to start in 2012.


Sanral says it accounted for about 70% of the bitumen used in South Africa in 2010.
As a result any bitumen shortage that exists within the industry "severely" affects the completion of the agency's projects, with the product used in the final road surface layer, notes Sanral in a written response to questions from Engineering News Online.

Sanral says the problem is made worse by the fact that during the May to August winter period no bitumen seal related work can be performed over about 75% of South Africa, owing to the low overnight temperatures. This results in these projects having to be delayed until September, which now poses a problem on the back of the bitumen shortage.

By: Irma Venter
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter

August 19, 2009

Bitumen Theft Exposed

RESIDENTS of Kyotera in Rakai district were on Friday surprised when the Police invaded the LC3 chairman’s residence to search for suspected stolen property.

Three Police officers had earlier been instructed by Rakai district Police commander Juma Okungo to guard Charles Lugumya’s home to prevent any movement of property.

Residents told Police that he had hidden drums of bitumen, cement and other items supposed to be used in the construction of Mutukula road in his house.

Town council driver Hamidu Matovu, store keeper Justine Nakafeero and three law enforcement officers, John Kawooya, Yusuf Masembe and Mukasa Kizito were arrested in connection with the theft.

The Police, led by Okungo and Rakai Criminal Investigation Department chief Patrick Awori, searched Lugumya’s house, but did not find any of the materials.

Seventeen empty drums of bitumen were found in the town council store.

The Police also recovered timber, buckets, and 16 empty drums from Matovu’s house.

Matovu told the Police that he was following Lugumya’s instructions.

Lugumya said: “We had about 115 empty drums of bitumen but most were stolen. We had to safeguard the remaining ones,that is why I asked the driver to take them to his home.”

He blamed the road’s site manager and assistant engineer for failing to ensure the safety of the empty drums.

August 15, 2009

Polymner Bitumen Binders

JSC Gazprom Neft and SIBUR conducted a regular meeting of the working group on joint participation in promotion of polymer bitumen binders (PBB) substantially improving automobile roads' quality and lifespan.

The participants of the meeting, involving representatives of JSC Soyuzdornii, discussed the issues of PBC production units launching and operating in the cities of Ufa (the Republic of Bashkiria), Bogoroditsk (the Tula Region) and Ivanteevka (the Moscow Region) in 2H2009. Production of PBB will be performed at the said units using DST-30-01 thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) produced by a SIBUR's subsidiary JSC Voronezhsintezkauchuk.

In course of the work group meeting, the parties outlined further steps to be made in the sphere of cooperation with the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation within the framework of a draft polymer asphalt concrete GOST reviewing.

In April 2009, following the appropriate tests performance, there was a favorable conclusion on the utilization of Russian brands of TEPs for bitumen modification gained from the Dorservis Test Center Scientific and Research Oganization based in the city of Pavlovsk.

The working group intends to keep on working on PBB producers' personnel advance training and undertake further seminars on the issues of PBB productio, transportation, storage and quality inspection.

For more information, please visit SIBUR online: