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Canada’s Oil Sands reaching out to innovation sector through ARCTIC Challenge

Steam The Foresight Clean Technology Accelerator Centre and the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) have launched the first ARCTIC Innovation Challenge, an invitation for companies to submit a proposal for the development of technologies to help improve the environmental performance of Canada’s oils sands reservoirs.

Potential solution providers are invited to submit their proposals through the ARCTIC website by November 28.

The non-profit Advanced Resource Clean Technology Innovation Centre (ARCTIC) is a new initiative from Foresight to help bring the resource sector together with companies from Canada’s innovation sector to collaborate on the development of advanced technologies to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in Canada’s Oil Sands.

COSIA, founded in 2012, is an alliance of 13 oil sands producers, representing 90% of production from Canada’s oil sands.

The objective of the first challenge is to have companies submit proposals for the development of innovative ways to address heat recovery in the oil sands, which is now wasted but could be used for higher value purposes.

Specifically, the two methods of bitumen extraction from the oil sands are Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) and Cyclic Steam Stimulation (CSS) which generates steam in boilers at a central processing facility by combusting large quantities of natural gas.

This combustion process results in heat lost through boiler stacks as high temperature flue gas (approximately 200°C), which contains CO2, NOx, SOx and is considered high-grade waste heat.

There is also the challenge of capturing low-grade waste heat, which is released into the atmosphere as 60-80°C warm air.

ARCTIC is now entering into the selection process for identifying companies who can provide these solutions, which will be followed by a six to nine month Challenge Sprint, during which the solutions will be subjected to feasibility studies along with laboratory and/or field testing.

While heat recovery will be an important step in reducing the greenhouse gas footprint in the approximately 55 thermal oil sands facilities in Alberta, such a technology could also have an application in electricity generation, refineries, or the forest industry.

The COSIA ARCTIC Waste Heat Challenge is funded through Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), and consulting partners Tessellate Inc. and the Delphi Group.

Shortlisted applicants will be contacted by December 11 to advise them of the next phase of the challenge, which will involve showcasing their solutions to a panel consisting of industry experts, venture capitalists and potential marketing partners.

One finalist will be selected in mid-2016 to receive additional funding for field testing.

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