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SAIT researcher awarded prestigious $1.75-million

September 12, 2016

Environmental Technologies researcher Vita Martez

Vita Martez, an environmental technologies researcher in SAIT's Applied Research and Innovation Services department has been awarded the prestigious Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Oil Sands in Situ Steam Generation by NSERC.

The award, valued at $1.75 million over five years, goes exclusively to SAIT to research ways to make the steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) process used in oil sands extraction more environmentally responsible.

Martez's technology testing and development research will target three areas:

  • recycling more water for reuse in situ oil sands production to reduce water use
  • improving steam quality with each recycle
  • de-carbonizing the process and reducing emissions

Natural gas is used to boil water to make the steam, which produces greenhouse gases. De-carbonization will reduce emissions while increasing energy and water efficiency. Currently, industry recycles 90% of this water. Martez says her applied research could improve this percentage significantly.

In addition, the research will have significant social and economic benefits for Canada and other energy-producing countries. "It will reduce the environmental footprint of oil sands production and attract new investment in technologies for cleaner energy production," says Martez.

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