Processing tar sands with geothermal energy ?  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

Bad idea of the week come from Canada, where there is interest in using geothermal energy to help process tar sands. The Globe and Mail reports - Researchers seek ‘preheater' for oil sands .

A new international research partnership based in Alberta hopes to answer an intriguing question: Could the warm rocks of deep Earth wean the oil sands off their heavy natural gas diet?

The University of Alberta has linked arms with the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, Germany's largest scientific organization, in hopes of furthering research into this and other oil-sands-emissions-related questions.

The partnership, signed Tuesday, brings with it the promise of international financing and German expertise in research areas where Canada has not typically excelled. One area is the use of geothermal energy in the oil sands.

Some researchers believe the earth in northeastern Alberta is hot enough to use as a sort of “preheater” for major oil sands mines, which use 40-degree Celsius water to separate oil from sand. Most of that heat comes from natural gas; the industry uses about one billion cubic feet of gas a day, or 7 per cent of Canada's daily production – a tally expected to grow substantially.

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