Pilot-scale study on the reverse osmosis treatment of oil sands tailings pond water: Impact of pretreatment on process performance

Kavithaa Loganathan, Pamela Chelme-Ayala, Mohamed Gamal El-Din

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


The oil sands industry has recently focused on both reducing their freshwater usage and maximizing the reuse of process water. This study is one of the few pilot-scale investigations reporting the ability of reverse osmosis (RO) to treat recycle water (RCW) from an oil sands facility. Two distinct treatment trains were assessed to evaluate the impacts of pretreatments on the RO performance. Treatment train 1 consisted of coagulant addition, ceramic ultrafiltration (CUF), antiscalant, and a single-pass RO system operated at natural pH, while the treatment train 2 included softening, coagulant addition, CUF system, weak acid cation ion exchange, antiscalant addition, and an RO system operated at alkaline pH. RO permeate fluxes normalized to 25°C of approximately 31-39L/m2·h at 72% recovery and 38-52L/m2·h at 85% recovery were recorded for treatment trains 1 and 2, respectively. At these conditions, the two treatment trains resulted in total dissolved solids lower than 18mg/L, while the dissolved sodium concentrations were below 7mg/L. During the pilot tests, clean-in-place procedures were not required for both treatment configurations, highlighting the effectiveness of the pretreatment steps to reduce the RO membrane foulants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-60
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes



  • Ion exchange
  • Oil sands
  • Pretreatment
  • Recycle water
  • Reverse osmosis
  • Softening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Water Science and Technology

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