Water EPA: In Situ Water Best Practices Working Group

In Situ Water Best Practices Working Group

The In Situ Water Best Practices Working Group brings together water experts from member companies to share knowledge and technologies and, ultimately, improve environmental performance for the industry—together.

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Water Director Update

Wayne Hillier

Wayne Hillier
Director, Water EPA

The Water Environmental Priority Area (EPA) is on the hunt for a tool that accurately measures the hardness of boiler feedwater at in situ oil sands operations. The Online Water Hardness Analyzer challenge, announced in September, is the sixth in the EPA’s roster of Water Challenges.

“Each of COSIA’s Challenges takes a specific issue faced by the industry, and unpacks it,” says Wayne Hillier, Water EPA director. “We lay out a very specific description of the problem faced and detail exactly what we are looking for to fix it. Setting it out in this way opens it up to innovators around the globe to help solve.”

In an in situ oil sands operation, water is heated to make steam which is injected into the reservoir to heat the bitumen. The steam condenses back to water, and is pumped to the surface with the hot bitumen. The water is recycled and reheated to steam. It is critical that operators understand the chemical make-up of this water, as it is returned, treated and used again and again. Methods used today to analyze the hardness of boiler feedwater in particular are ineffective either because they take a lot of time or can provide unreliable results.

“Hardness is a measure of the mineral content of water. We work hard to reduce the minerals in the boiler feedwater. Excessive mineral content can lead to scaling, inefficient operation and equipment failure.” explains Wayne. “A tool to accurately and quickly measure the hardness of the water will go a long way to maintaining efficient operations and help improve the environmental performance of in situ facilities”

The Challenge details how the successful technology should measure water hardness, including the range of hardness it will measure, the operating conditions, and the reporting limits and frequency. It also lays out other desirable characteristics for the analyzer, such as being self-cleaning, an adaptable design and minimal maintenance requirements. For further details on how to submit a proposed solution read the full Online Water Hardness Analyzer challenge.