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Collaborative applied research using SAIT's four test rigs – unique in Canada – is enhancing environmental sustainability, benefiting society and boosting the economy.
Steam generation is central to energy production in Canada’s oil sands, where an in-situ technology called steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) injects recycled steam underground to soften hydrocarbons and bring them to the surface. On campus and at CERCUTS — SAIT’s newest Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS) facility — students and researchers from SAIT, the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta are testing ideas to make steam production highly energy efficient, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the use of recycled water.
“The overall goal,” says ARIS’s Dr. Vita Martez (CHT ’94), NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges, “based on steam generation and thermodynamics, is to reduce scale and fouling and to integrate clean-technology solutions.”
This test rig is a 1/1,000th size replica uniting the function and operation of a commercial OTSG.
A 16,000 watt burner superheats water passing through about 7 meters of pipe to create steam.
Just one millimeter of scale build-up in steam tubes can increase fuel consumption up to 2%*.
The radiant coil is a heat exchanger where saturated steam leaving the OTSG turns to a cooled liquid, keeping heat transfer consistent.
This rig can run up to 1,000 litres of test water per day from SAGD facilities across Western Canada. It is also one of two “fouling” test rigs built in Alberta patterned after the first generation rig developed by top-notch scientists and engineers from ConocoPhillips in Bartlesville, Okla. and transferred to SAIT. Two other first generation test rigs to conduct research on erosion and corrosion were donated by Suncor Energy Inc. in 2018.
Funding support is provided by The Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (Water Environmental Priority Area), the Alberta Government Research Capacity Program and Alberta Innovates.