4 June 2013 Non-intrusive telemetry applications in the oilsands: from visible light and x-ray video to acoustic imaging and spectroscopy
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While the production, transport and refining of oils from the oilsands of Alberta, and comparable resources elsewhere is performed at industrial scales, numerous technical and technological challenges and opportunities persist due to the ill defined nature of the resource. For example, bitumen and heavy oil comprise multiple bulk phases, self-organizing constituents at the microscale (liquid crystals) and the nano scale. There are no quantitative measures available at the molecular level. Non-intrusive telemetry is providing promising paths toward solutions, be they enabling technologies targeting process design, development or optimization, or more prosaic process control or process monitoring applications. Operation examples include automated large object and poor quality ore during mining, and monitoring the thickness and location of oil water interfacial zones within separation vessels. These applications involve real-time video image processing. X-ray transmission video imaging is used to enumerate organic phases present within a vessel, and to detect individual phase volumes, densities and elemental compositions. This is an enabling technology that provides phase equilibrium and phase composition data for production and refining process development, and fluid property myth debunking. A high-resolution two-dimensional acoustic mapping technique now at the proof of concept stage is expected to provide simultaneous fluid flow and fluid composition data within porous inorganic media. Again this is an enabling technology targeting visualization of diverse oil production process fundamentals at the pore scale. Far infrared spectroscopy coupled with detailed quantum mechanical calculations, may provide characteristic molecular motifs and intermolecular association data required for fluid characterization and process modeling. X-ray scattering (SAXS/WAXS/USAXS) provides characteristic supramolecular structure information that impacts fluid rheology and process fouling. The intent of this contribution is to present some of the challenges and to provide an introduction grounded in current work on non-intrusive telemetry applications - from a mine or reservoir to a refinery!
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John M. Shaw, John M. Shaw, "Non-intrusive telemetry applications in the oilsands: from visible light and x-ray video to acoustic imaging and spectroscopy", Proc. SPIE 8725, Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications V, 872520 (4 June 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2018384; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2018384

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