The OSTRF was designed to provide maximum research flexibility. The OSTRF is an intermediate scale continuous-flow-through facility capable of accommodating a number of interdisciplinary research projects concurrently. The infrastructure consists of three independent modules for delivery/production, treatment and deposition of tailings. Each module contains interchangeable units, skid-mounted with self-contained instrumentation. The modules are easily re-configured to access and/or bypass any piece of process equipment during a given set of experiments, with quick return of bypassed equipment into the test circuit.
The OSTRF has been designed to process tailing slurries at 600 kg solids per hour and 2000 kg solids per hour. The 2000 kg/hr capability is to ensure upward scalability of the process data to full scale operations. The lower capacity is to reduce the material handling challenges as significant research and development studies are undertaken. Modular equipment skids can be arranged in several Process-Flow-configurations, allowing subsequent additions and/or exchange of process modules – as it may be required in the future. The OSTRF includes provisions for the delivery, handling, storage and processing of such materials as: tailing sand, MFT, total tailing slurries and tailings water.
Several processing techniques are available to manufacture tailings to required specifications, including preparation of:
- High density CT from Beach Sand and MFT
- Low density CT from Hydrocyclone U/flow and MFT
- Hydrocyclone-de-sanded Fine Tailings for Flocculation Thickening
- Engineered Tailings at specified Sand/Fines ratios and % solids, from beach Sand, water and MFT
Upon installation of a pilot thickener (summer 2008), it will also be possible to test fine tailings flocculation-thickening processes and produce a variety of mixtures including thickener paste, beach sand and/or hydrocyclone underflow. In the future, other equipment such as vacuum belt filter and/or belt filter presses may also be tested.
The plant has appropriate storage facilities such as: MFT storage tank, two tailings water tanks, agitated tailings tanks for feed tailings, fine tailings and composite tailings, as well as multi-purpose piping, progressive cavity slurry pumps, valves, instrumentation, comprehensive process controls and computer based data storage system. The processing equipment includes a precision weight-loss-hopper with belt-feeder, multi-purpose Rotary Mixer/Screen with paddle-mixer-pump-box, 2.5” DIA. hydrocyclone, weight-loss coagulant feeder and agitated flocculant tank. Processed tailings can be deposited in two large settling columns (813 mm ID x 4700 mm tall), each equipped with eighteen (18) surgical sampling points, or in re-configurable ‘flexi-flume’ deposition cell allowing several potential depositional configurations. A 2 m long rheological section is also provided, to enable hydraulic-friction-loss measurements for tested mixtures. Critical slurry pipelines are equipped with Coriolis type mass flow meters, which provide simultaneous measurement of temperature, density and mass flow, as well as inferred measure of volumetric flow. The OSTRF is highly instrumented to allow fundamental understanding of the internal and external interactions between the fluid and mineral particles. The OSTRF’s equipment and infrastructure provide the opportunity for innovative research related to the challenging issues of oil sands tailings management.