Canada & Univ of Alberta Collaborate on Oil Sands Research

The Government of Canada and the University of Alberta's Faculty of Engineering today officially opened the $2.2-million Oil Sands Tailings Research Facility (OSTRF). Located 40 kilometers southwest of Edmonton in Devon, Alberta, the OSTRF is dedicated to collaborative and multidisciplinary oil sands tailings research.

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is providing $700,000 for the infrastructure of the OSTRF and $40,000 a year for five years for the lease of the facility.

"The benefits of this research will be far-reaching - for the oil sands industry and the environment," said the Honorable R. John Efford, Minister of Natural Resources Canada. "The Government of Canada is committed to the sustainable development of our natural resources and this cutting-edge facility is an excellent example of the kind of knowledge, innovation and technology that Canada needs to help achieve our climate change goals."

OSTRF is a unique academic and industrial research facility dedicated to developing novel approaches to tailings treatment. It will attract world-class students and researchers and train significant pools of engineers and technicians - the next generation of oil sands industry leaders, consultants and regulators.

Celebrating OSTRF, Dr. David T. Lynch, P.Eng., Dean of Engineering at the University of Alberta, said, "Thanks to our federal and provincial partners, and the oil sands industry, the Faculty of Engineering can significantly advance its strategic research plan to find a superior way to handle the final products and outcomes of the oil sands extraction process."

The facility will consist of three independent research departments for delivery, treatment and deposition of tailings. OSTRF's research outcomes will include efficient tailings management, minimized environmental impact of material handling, prevention of adverse environmental releases, efficient use of water, sustainable landscape, progressive reclamation and much more. This research is critical for industry to meet environmental regulations, address safety and liability issues, and reduce operating costs.

The Devon location provides access to a multimillion-dollar state-of-the- art facility with unique scientific equipment and the experienced research staff of NRCan's CANMET Energy Technology Centre - both vital to the success of this pioneering research program. Dr. Dave Sego, principal investigator and civil engineering professor at the University of Alberta, explains, "The OSTRF will be the model for environmentally superior restoration technologies and a leader in adaptive and sustainable mine restoration."

Funding has also come from the Alberta Research Council, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Alberta Science and Research Authority. Other supporters include Albian Sands Energy Inc., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Suncor, Syncrude and True North Energy.

The University of Alberta's Faculty of Engineering is among North America's leading engineering research and teaching centers with 4,300 students, 30 research chairs, $73 million in annual research activity, more than 120 new professors, several new buildings and outstanding facilities.