Oil/gas innovation brief July 10: Lithium from wastewater pilot project completed in Alberta

Also in this brief: Wireless sensing energizes oil/gas pipeline monitoring, Alberta engineering sector begins recovering in 2017

Lithium from SADG wastewater process pilot plant completed in Alberta

MGX Minerals Inc. – a Canadian company with a patent to extract lithium from SAGD (steam assisted gravity drainage, used in oil sands production) wastewater – has completed an operating 1,000 litre/day petrolithium extraction and water treatment system that will be used for large scale testing of bulk water samples from MGX’s Petrolithium Projects including Sturgeon Lake, Alberta and Paradox Basin, Utah, as well as customers and partners prior to deployment of commercial systems.

“Over the month of July, we will be receiving large volume samples from MGX’s projects and now have the processing capacity to demonstrate the benefits of the lithium recovery process as well as upgraded water quality,” said Dr. Preston McEachern, CEO of Purlucid, MGX Minerals’ engineering partner.

The process relies on advanced nano-materials utilized in conjunction with nano-flotation technologies, the company said in a press release.

Fabrication of a 100,000 liter/d pilot unit for pre-commercial testing of oilfield wastewater and the lithium recovery system is also underway.

Construction of the system began in early 2017 and the water treatment component essential to delivering a water quality suitable for lithium recovery was completed in early spring. Completion of the pilot plant is expected in September.

In addition, design and engineering of commercial scale 1,200,000 litres/d system is now underway.

Wireless sensing technologies energize oil & gas pipeline monitoring

The need to manage the serviceability and stability of an aging pipeline infrastructure is driving the adoption of smart sensors in the oil and gas pipeline monitoring market, according to a press release from Frost & Sullivan.

Advanced sensing systems that leverage new technologies, such as wireless sensing, energy harvesting, smart materials, embedded electronic computing, miniaturization, robotic systems, and Big Data analytics intelligence, can increase return on investment, reduce down time, and improve public safety.

Challenge with airborne leak detection systems is selecting appropriate sensors to detect liquid hydrocarbon leaks. Photo: TransCanada.

Frost & Sullivan’s TechVision study evaluates advances in sensing technologies and their impact on the oil and gas pipeline industry in the near, medium, and long terms. It captures sensor innovations from different dimensions, such as upstream, downstream, and midstream.

“Wireless sensors are emerging as one of the strongest options for pipeline monitoring applications. With the adoption of wireless sensor network (WSN) technology, on-board computational sensing, and wireless communication capabilities, the quality of monitoring will significantly improve,” said Varun Babu, TechVision Research Analyst.
The insights will enable players to align themselves with the market trends and be early adopters of novel technologies.

“The WSN sensor nodes and algorithms can provide rich information for detection, location and assessment of structural damage caused by severe loading events and progressive environmental deterioration,” said Babu.

Cost is a key issue that hampers the adoption of any new technology. However, funding support by government agencies and venture capitalists is expected to accelerate the commercialization of prototypes.

Innovative products from key players include:

  • Ultrasound imaging technology to achieve a 3D image with high resolution of horizontal wells from Vancouver’s DarkVision Technologies Inc, Canada;
  • Autonomous drones comprising of sensor fusion, computer vision, and machine learning technology to perform complex tasks, developed by Percepto, Israel;
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems by Sky-Future, United Kingdom, that can include visible or thermal imaging systems for high-definition monitoring and inspection of internal tanks;
  • Advanced oil and gas pipeline security system, PipeGuard by Magal S3, Israel, which enables pipeline owners to effectively fight against terrorism, theft, and third-party damage; and
  • Airborne remote gas sensing technologies for detecting leaks in natural gas pipelines by Synodon Inc, USA.

“With the lack of an established technology ecosystem, there is a need for close cooperation between device developers, material suppliers, equipment vendors, and foundries to develop common standards to facilitate reliable production processes,” said Jabez Mendelson.

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After Alberta engineering sector takes beating, recovery on its way in 2017

“Many of Canada’s business services industries have been negatively affected by weakness in the energy sector and economy over the past two years. However, this year most of the industries will see improvements due to slightly higher oil prices and an accelerating pace of job creation,” said Michael Burt, Director, Industrial Economic Trends, The Conference Board of Canada.

“The engineering and consulting industries will additionally benefit from the federal government’s plan to increase infrastructure spending.”

Demand for engineering services has been heavily affected by the decline in commodity prices over the last few years.

The resulting drop in related business investment has meant that employment, prices, and sales in engineering services have all shrunk considerably.

The industry will begin staging a recovery in 2017, due in part to improving conditions in the oil and gas industry, and increased government infrastructure spending.

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