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Research Article  |  Published 1 February 2018

Role of n-Decane in an Alternative Bitumen Extraction Process 
Feng Lin* and Brandon Chao

Natural Resources Canada, CanmetENERGY Devon, Alberta, T9G 1A8, Canada


A lower-temperature water/solvent hybrid bitumen extraction (HBE) has been considered as a possible alternative method to the commercially used hot or warm aqueous extraction for mineable oil sands. This communication describes the effectiveness of ndecane (as an example of a high-boiling-point solvent) in the HBE process. Extraction efficiencies of decane-based HBE flotation tests using a batch extraction unit, and the amount of decane ending up in the extracted tailings were determined by gas chromatography. It was suggested that adding n-decane significantly enhanced bitumen recovery at 20°C for three different grades of ore, but was not as effective as additions of lighter solvents such as n-hexane, at the same dosage. Interestingly, the levels of solvent remained in the decane-based HBE tailings for the three ores were much higher than levels obtained when nhexane was used in the HBE. The relationship between n-decane loss ratio to tailings and bitumen recovery is outlined.

Decane; Enhanced oil recovery; Flotation; Gas chromatography; Solvent loss; Tar/oil sand.