START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
2,581,212 people care about Environment & Wildlife

Can Liquid Salt Make The Tar Sands Easier To Swallow?

Can Liquid Salt Make The Tar Sands Easier To Swallow?

Researchers at Penn State University have developed a method of separating oil from tar sands that could reduce the environmental impact of the industry.

Tar sands, also known as bituminous sands or oil sands, are one of the most energy intensive and polluting sources of energy in the world.

Extracting the oil requires the storage of contaminated wastewater from the separation process in large open air ponds where it can seep into groundwater and pollute lakes and rivers. In addition, the large amounts of water needed can deplete local fresh water resources.

The U.S. imports more than 1 million barrels of oil per day from Canada, about twice as much as from Saudi Arabia.

A research group at Penn State spent the past 18 months developing a technique that uses ionic liquids (salt in a liquid state) to facilitate separation of oil from the sands in a cleaner, more energy efficient manner. The separation takes place at room temperature without the generation of waste water.

“Essentially, all of the bitumen is recovered in a very clean form, without any contamination from the ionic liquids,” explained Paul Painter, the project’s lead polymer scientist. “Because the bitumen, solvents and sand/clay mixture separate into three distinct phases, each can be removed separately and the solvent can be reused.”

The process can also be used to extract oil and tar from beach sand after oil spills, such as the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon incidents. Unlike other methods of cleanup, the Penn State process completely removes the hydrocarbons, and the cleaned sand can be returned to the beach instead of being sent to landfills.

Related Reading:

BP Shows Renewed Interest In Canadian Tar Sands

Watch Out For Tar Sands: An Even Bigger Enviro Disaster Is Looming

State Department Witholds Information On Tar Sands Oil Pipeline

Read more: , , , , , ,

Image Credit: Penn State

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

60 comments

+ add your own
6:14AM PDT on May 22, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

11:19AM PDT on Aug 27, 2011

Very nice, if we don't mind ignoring the damage done from the extraction process. This oil has to be burned, cough, cough.
You know, they put filters on cigarettes so we don't have to breath this crap.

8:45AM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

Bad idea!

4:53AM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

We need to realize that for the time being we need oil to power our world as we transition to more environmentally friendly systems to generate power. Going back to the dark ages is NOT a solution and rampant development of energy isn't either. We need to reduce the rhetoric and work together to reach productive and reasonable solutions to both our development issues and environmental problems. Killing off jobs won't help but killing off the planet won't either.

3:39AM PDT on Apr 5, 2011

interesting, but howabout getting away from oil completely.

10:53AM PDT on Apr 1, 2011

Thanks Beth. Potentially Very good news. However, I agree with Dave C. & tried to send him a Green Star. We humans must reduce our reliance on oil greatly. The environmental impacts from all the ways we get it are awful.

5:05AM PDT on Apr 1, 2011

Lets keep finguers crossed !!!

2:13PM PDT on Mar 31, 2011

Sounds promising--at least for cleaning our beaches.

9:14AM PDT on Mar 31, 2011

The development of the tar sands into fuel is one of the worst things to ever happen to life on this planet. Not only will the process of fuel-production create pollution, it will also be the most costly fuel ever produced. Worse still, it will be less clean than the fuel we're already using. The answer is NOT more fuel. The answer is REDUCE CONSUMPTION. Sell your cars and buy bicycles or learn how to use your community's public transportation. Unless, of course, you don't care whether your great grandchildren inherit a healthy planet or a living hell.

9:00AM PDT on Mar 31, 2011

This is great news. I hope the process is tested and reported upon in the coming months.

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free
CONTACT THE EDITORS

Recent Comments from Causes

What a SUPER story, wish there were more people like you that help animals. So happy to hear this…

meet our writers

Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
ads keep care2 free



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.