X-ray microscopy of hydrocarbon-clay interactions
Covelli, Danielle Sarah
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One of the critical challenges in the Canadian oil sand industry is improving processes used to separate bitumen from oil sands and to remove clay particulates from produced oil. The fine clay particles are believed to play a significant role in the oil sands industry, from stabilizing process emulsions to fouling problems in water treatment. Addressing the problems caused by these fine clay particulates is limited by the ability to characterize the hydrocarbon-clay interactions. Scanning Transmission X-ray Microscopy (STXM) is used to study hydrocarbon-clay interactions in controlled model systems, where all components are known, and in process samples extracted from oil sands. To use STXM to study our desired systems, many experimental developments were required. Well developed sample preparation was needed to provide samples free from contaminants and experiments free of artifacts. Clean clays, free of extraneous carbon were required for model studies. A device to reduce photodeposition in the STXM chamber was also required to examine interactions of hydrocarbons on clay surfaces. Using these developments, Near Edge X-ray Absorption Fine Structure (NEXAFS) spectra of model clays and model hydrocarbon mixtures were recorded using the STXM microscope on beamline 5.3.2 at the Advanced Light Source, in Berkeley CA. Using NEXAFS spectroscopy in conjunction with the STXM microscope, allowed us to explore preferential interactions between specific hydrocarbon and fine clay particles (smaller than 1 µm) in our model studies. We were also able to assess the chemistry of the hydrocarbons before association with the clay particles. Process samples, consisting of a set of four bitumen froths extracted from the oil sands were investigated. The carbon chemistry of the froths was assessed and quantitatively analyzed. The findings were correlated with previous confocal microscopy results from our collaborators at CANMET Energy Technology Centre in Devon, Alberta.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
SupervisorUrquhart, Stephen G.
CommitteeReid, R. Stephen; Peak, J. Derek; Wilson, Lee D.
Copyright DateAugust 2007