Gates and his team of researchers have developed the technology to the point where they can make pellets of various sizes right at the wellhead, using about the same amount of energy as it takes to add diluent to the bitumen to liquefy it for shipping via pipelines.
"Think Advil," Gates said. "You have the chemical material ... we're then exposing that material, on the outside, to a set of heat, pressure conditions, that then yield a asphaltine-rich coating. So, really just a coating that bounds the inner material."
Ian Gates at the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering says his bitumen pellet invention will make it cheaper and safer to transport Alberta's energy products by rail. (CBC)
The pellets are tough and can be safely transported by rail or truck without worrying about spills. Because of a gas bubble injected inside each pellet, they are also buoyant, Gates says.
"They're nice and hardy. If you put them in water, they'll sit like that for a very long time," Gates said.
"It's a safe product for transport."
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James L. Salmon, Esq.
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