Water Innovation Opportunities

If you're an academic, researcher, innovator, inventor, entrepreneur, large company, or really anyone with an idea or potential innovation—we want to hear from you.

What is an innovation opportunity?

COSIA's Innovation Opportunities provide focused, actionable descriptions of the current state of opportunities related to environmental processes and impacts of the oil sands industry. Each represents a possibility that, if realized, would contribute towards the achievement of COSIA's environmental aspirations.

The Innovation Opportunities include research and technology opportunities, from incremental - because the small things add up - through to the game-changers with the potential to propel industry forward.



Sharing Operational Improvements
Share best practices and technologies related to improving environmental performance of both operations and facility design for both the mining and the in-situ sectors.
Waste Treatment Technologies
Develop new and innovative technologies which manage (treat) the concentrated residuals (blowdown) created in in-situ the produced water treatment process including; slop oil, lime sludge, OTSG blowdown, evaporator blowdown, and ion exchange, which reduce Environmental Net Effects and cost and are thus more likely to be deployed. The technologies/practices could be either surface facility treatment technologies or long-term management strategies for these waste streams.
New or Non-Conventional Boilers
Develop new steam generation technologies which generate more steam to inject and/or increase steam generator operating uptime while improving water recycle, reducing disposal and reducing energy use/GHG intensity.
OTSG Related Technologies & Process Configurations
Improve the design/operation of existing Once Through Steam Generators (OTSGs) to generate more injection steam and/or increase steam generator operating uptime, while improving water recycle, reducing disposal and reducing energy use/GHG intensity.
Process Monitoring
Improve in situ process monitoring through the collaborative improvement/development online analyzers, and analytical techniques/best practices, and in situ laboratory analytical methods, with the goal of improving the stability, utilization of in situ produced water treatment facilities.
Advanced Predictive Control
Improve In situ process control and automation, resulting in the improved stability, utilization water intensity and OPEX, through sharing of best practices and the development of advanced controls, including the development and implementation advanced process control, data analytics, for predictive process optimization and control.
Water Treatment Fundamentals
Improve the understanding of the fundamentals of in situ water treatment and chemistry, including organic and inorganic fouling mechanisms, the insights from which will enable improvement of existing Insitu produced water treatment technologies and development of new technologies.
New Water Treatment Technologies
Develop new water treatment technologies, ready for commercial deployment, which replant elements of or the entire Insitu produced water treatment process with the goal of improving environmental performance, reduce costs and improve reliability.
Groundwater Makeup and Disposal
Improve the understanding of the regional groundwater source and waste disposal zones location, distribution and capacity used by thermal operators to ensure long term source and disposal optimization and sustainable use.
Innovation Infrastructure
Improve the Insitu technology development innovation infrastructure, including the innovation management systems, technical support, sample availability, and bench testing facilities, to support and expand the number of good early TRL ideas to be identified, and tested quickly, and efficiently.
Streamline (Field) Piloting of Potential Technologies
Development commercially available on and offsite pilot testing infrastructure/facilities to enable high potential technologies to be piloted quickly that are representative of all critical parts of the in-situ central processing facilities.
Recovery Technologies
Understand the feasibility, key issues, and costs associated with recovering water from the flue gas of natural gas boilers at in-situ production sites.
Acceptable Concentrations
The dissolved organics in OSPW are the primary toxic constituent. Untreated OSPW typically contains 20-60 ppm dissolved organics and if untreated is usually acutely toxic when assessed using standard bioassays like the 96-hr trout test. Like all-natural petroleum deposits, these dissolved organics consist of many different chemical species which likely contribute to the toxicity. As a result, this opportunity focuses on chemistry and toxicity studies that identify the most toxic chemical families and using this information to test how effectively treatment methods transform these species into non-toxic constituents.
Process Water Chemistry
Improved knowledge and science on the natural verses’ anthropogenic effects of oil sands development activity on the Athabasca River watershed, including trace elements and dissolved organics in both natural inputs, such as ground water seeps and bogs into the mainstem and tributaries and potential anthropogenic inputs from particulate emissions to snowpack and seepage from tailings ponds.
Watershed Cumulative Effects
Water return of treated oil sands process water (OSPW) to natural surface waters during operations. Depressurization water management (saline and non-saline), treatment technologies, residuals management and return. Result is that water management and treatment technologies enable the sustainable return of treated OSPW and depressurization water to the Athabasca River and as a result, minimize the net environmental effects.
Wastewater Management Tools
Developing tools and knowledge that enable mine site integrated water management. Developing tools and knowledge that help inform water management strategies and practices.
Passive Treatment Technologies
New or improved low-energy technologies that can effectively treat OSPW or highly saline depressurization water for return to the Athabasca River. The technology should be economical and require minimal energy and maintenance for long term operation. Passive or semi-passive treatment systems that detoxify OSPW have several advantages over active treatment systems like ozonation including lower net environment effect, lower costs and the ability to deploy during the active mining and reclamation phases of mine life.
Acceptable Configurations
Demonstration through modeling and pilots that the planned depths, littoral zones and lake substrates (with and without tailings) will result in typical boreal forest aquatic ecosystems. Desired results will demonstrate through modeling and pilots that the planned depths, littoral zones and lake substrates (with and without MFT) will result in typical boreal forest aquatic ecosystems.
Adaptive Management Techniques
Adaptive management techniques for pit lakes that address emerging problems and speed reclamation.
Scale Up
Scale up of pit lake technologies.
Biological and Water Quality Factors
Assessment of natural rates for establishment of biological activity and remediation of water quality in a pit lake and testing of technologies and practice that can speed or enhance these natural processes.
Improve Water Use
Technologies and best practices that reduce water use while minimizing detrimental impacts to other environmental areas such as GHGs and Land. Identification and deployment of technologies, best practices and water sharing that reduce water or improve water quality use while minimizing detrimental impacts to other environmental areas such as GHGs and Land.
Optimize Environmental Performance Boundaries
Environmental Net Effects assessment tools that help assess the potential impacts of water management options.