Niskayuna, New York – A new $4 million project to cost-effectively reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels will focus on Alberta’s oil sands. GE Global Research is partnering with the University of Alberta and Alberta Innovates Technology Futures on a capture project supported by the not-for-profit Climate Change and Emissions Management (CCEMC) Corporation.

The team will use nanotechnology research to tackle two of the most pressing environmental challenges facing the oil sands: reduction of CO2 emissions associated with the extraction and upgrading process, and treatment of produced water generated during the oil recovery.

The technology is based on naturally-occurring zeolites, which are rocks with molecular-sized pores which allow small molecules to enter while excluding larger ones. Zeolites are widely used as catalysts in the chemical industry. The project seeks to form these materials into membranes that can be used for high-temperature gas separation, and also have the potential to be used as filters for contaminated water.

The CCEMC is providing $2 million in support of the project, with an equal cost share from GE and its project partners.

“This project is a great example of how partnership between academic research organizations and industry can lead to meaningful innovation,” said Anthony Ku, project leader for GE Global Research. “We’re excited to be working with the CCEMC and some of Alberta’s best and brightest research minds to take an interesting material identified in a university lab and figure out how to build a prototype that will be tested in the field.”

Ku said that successful commercialization and widespread adoption of the technology could reduce CO2 emissions from the production of synthetic crude oil from the oil sands by up to 25 per cent.

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