Civil and Environmental Engineering
2368 MacKenzie Building
1125 Colonel By Drive
Canada, K1S 5B6
Phone:613-520-2600, ext. 2984
The extraction of bitumen from oil sands in Alberta (Canada) utilizes large volumes of freshwater, and generates wastewater, known as oil sands process water (OSPW). OSPW is comprised of a complex mixture of bitumen residue, dissolved organic compounds, inorganic salts, and suspended solids. Under the current practice, approximately 70% of the OSPW is treated for reuse, while the other 30% is discharged and stored in tailing ponds. However, the use of tailing ponds for the storage of OSPW recently has received significant questions because many of the compounds in OSPW are toxic to aquatic habitats. In particular, there have been concerns that accidental release of OSPW from the ponds can contaminate surface water and groundwater. Therefore, water treatment technologies that could improve OSPW water quality and reduce its toxicity have the potential to decrease the environmental impacts of the oil sands industry by enhancing water reuse, reducing tailing ponds size, and preventing environmental pollution risks.
This 12-week long summer project will examine the use of electrochemical oxidation processes for the treatment of OSPW. In an electrochemical oxidation process, organic contaminants are removed by oxidation when electric current is applied to the anode (i.e., one of the 2 electrodes in the electrochemical reactor). Under the supervision of the professor, the student will conduct experiments in the environmental laboratory at Carleton University to select the materials that can serve as anode, optimize the design of the reactor, and evaluate the OSPW treatment efficiency. The overall goal of this research is to assess whether electrochemical oxidation could be developed into an effective, cost-competitive treatment technology for removing contaminants in OSPW. In addition, the goal of the project is also to give the student opportunities to learn how to operate modern analytical instruments, and to interact with Master and PhD students in our program.
Project 2: Use of persulfate as an oxidant for remediation of contaminated groundwater and soil
After 20 years of investment in remediation efforts, Canada still has over 22,000 federal hazardous sites where contaminated groundwater and soil pose threats to public health. If we were to use existing technologies, such as groundwater extraction and bioremediation, to remediate these sites, approximately $4.9 billion will be needed for the cleanup in the coming decades. New technologies that improve the efficiency of site cleanup have the potential to save money and speed the time required for site remediation.
This 12-week long summer project will examine the use of persulfate for in situ remediation of contaminated groundwater and soil. In situ remediation using persulfate, also known as in situ chemical oxidation (ISCO), involves the injection of sodium persulfate solutions into the subsurface. Upon contact with iron-containing minerals, persulfate is converted into sulfate and hydroxyl radicals, i.e., highly reactive oxidants that can oxidize a wide range of organic contaminants. The technology is simple, easy to deploy, but its use is often limited because we currently lack the basic understanding about environmental factors that may affect persulfate chemistry and contaminant oxidation. Under the supervision of the professor, the student will conduct experiments in the environmental laboratory at Carleton University to fulfill some of the knowledge gaps related to the persulfate ISCO technology. The goal of the project is also to give the student opportunities to learn how to operate modern analytical instruments, and to interact with Master and PhD students in our program.