Finding Energy Savings in Oil and Gas Mining and Extraction

In 2016, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) worked with Foresight to source and vet technological solutions that could replace or supplement conventional hot water production approaches in either new or existing mining operations without using existing (or new) steam resources for heat exchange purposes.

Completed
Impact Stats

July 2016 to March 2018

The ARCTIC Hot Water Production Challenge

To further the sustainability goals of their member company, Imperial Oil, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) partnered with Foresight Canada to run an innovation challenge seeking solutions that could reduce the energy intensity of its commercial-scale natural gas-fired boilers. 

Challenge winner Combustion and Energy Systems Ltd. delivered a solution that not only saved energy, but reduced emissions and water use intensity as well. As a result of the challenge, Imperial installed six of Combustion and Energy System’s ConDex units designed to recover waste energy from boilers used for oil sands mining operations in Alberta.

  • Foresight Canada Horizontal
  • ces logo
  • COSIA logo_HORIZONTAL RGB (1) (1)
  • Imperial full colour (1)

Challenge Sponsor:

COSIA and Alberta Innovates

Challenge Winner:

Combustion and Energy System Ltd.

Challenge Coordinators:

Delphi Group and Tessellate 

The Challenge

Oil sands mining and extraction processes require commercial scale hot water in the 20-90 °C range, which is typically produced indirectly through contact with steam produced in natural gas fired boilers, and cogeneration units and waste heat. 

In 2016, the Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) worked with Foresight to source and vet technological solutions that could replace or supplement conventional hot water production approaches in either new or existing mining operations without using existing (or new) steam resources for heat exchange purposes. 

The Solution

Combustion and Energy Systems Ltd. was selected as the winner of the Mining Hot Water Production Challenge for their innovative ConDex solution. Combustion and Energy Systems is a leading global supplier of custom designed, proprietary and patented condensing heat recovery and energy efficiency systems to industrial and institutional clients worldwide. By improving the energy efficiency of customer’s power plants and processes, they save clients money on fuel costs, reduce their carbon emissions, and recover reusable water through the use of their Condex systems—a custom designed condensing heat recovery and energy efficiency system.

"What we're seeing now is that people know that if our ConDex solution works at Imperial's Kearl Site, that we can be trusted for it to work virtually anywhere.”

Cam Veitch Vice President, Combustion and Energy Systems Ltd.
Cam Veitch

Outcomes for the Industry Partners

The winner, Combustion and Energy Systems, was selected in March, 2018, after which Imperial moved onto the field demonstration phase, which concluded in March, 2020.

Following a successful demonstration project that delivered energy, water, and cost savings, Imperial moved forward with procuring additional ConDex systems for the Kearl site. Between 2021 and 2023 Combustion and Energy Systems Ltd. delivered five additional large-scale ConDex systems to Imperial. 

The project has resulted in significant energy savings:

    220k tonnes of CO2

    Imperial is expected to see emissions reductions of 220,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, which is the equivalent of removing 47,000 vehicles from the road.

    700M litres of Water

    The full installation is expected to reduce Imperial’s site water consumption by 700 million liters per year.

    Reduced Natural Gas

    By capturing waste heat and using it to preheat the process water in the utility system, the ConDex technology enables the reduction of the amount of natural gas used at the Kearl site, which is burned to heat process water on site.

    $29.4M Saved

    Currently, at the going market rate, it costs roughly $1,000 to remove one tonne of CO2 using existing CCUS technologies. By investing in this challenge—$15.6 million for the initial demonstration project involving one unit—they saved $29.4 million.

    For Imperial Oil, this project represents a significant step toward their sustainability objectives of achieving net zero operations by 2050.

    Outcomes for the Innovators

    For Combustion and Energy Systems, the completion of this challenge has acted as a beacon to their customer base. The ConDex systems used in the Kearl project were the largest constructed by the company to date, were deployed in a very harsh environment, and validated the technological competence of their team.

    Since the completion of the Mining Hot Water Production Challenge, their team has found clients in many industries, including pulp and paper, food and beverage, chemical production and manufacturing, and others. 

    Challenge Background

    The Mining Hot Water Production Challenge was the third of six challenges in the ARCTIC program, which was conceived and launched to meet an identified need for a more demand-pull strategy for driving innovation in Western Canada to primarily meet the needs of Canada’s bedrock resource industries. ARCTIC focused on helping resource companies increase their competitiveness by responding to shifting market demands and concerns around responsible development of resources by making sure that the small-to-medium sized (SME) companies developing innovative solutions for the resource sector were driven by customer and market requirements. 

    At the time the project launched in 2014, the G7 group of countries had just called for major cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions and a carbon-free global economy by 2100. Member countries, including Canada, had committed to “developing and deploying innovative technologies” to transform the energy sectors by 2050.  The ARCTIC project was a response to that need, and since its launch, the resource-based cleantech sector has transformed and grown substantially in response to a rapidly changing business and regulatory environment, climate change urgency and technological advances.

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