Paper presented at the 7th International Conference on Heat Transfer, Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics, Turkey, 19-21 July, 2010.
The bituminous oil sands formations in northern Alberta, Canada are a vital economic natural resource for Canada as their potential for oil production has become quite relevant in recent years due to advances in petrochemical technology. However, the disposal of slurries from the synthetic oil production processes has become quite problematic and addressing this issue is of paramount importance in order to preserve the sensitive ecosystems in this area. These slurries are also known as oil sands tailings, and composed of coarse, fine and
mature fine tailings (partially processed). The focus of this paper is on the flow characteristics of mature fine tailings since they possess poor consolidation properties and take a very long time, often decades, to settle as compared with coarse tailings. Due to the chemical composition of the oil sands tailings, their rheological
characteristics are extremely complex. Therefore, a theoretical study of their flow properties with simple test geometries that is valuable in gaining an understanding of the settling process dynamics is performed in this work. The model development was carried out using a commercial computational fluid dynamics (CFD) package FLUENT (version 6.3) and validated with empirical data for further development of processes for tailings transfer and settling with minimal disturbance.