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Response to hatrack (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 30, 2013, 11:48 AM

23. Don't worry, the nuclear industry has a plan to clean up tar sands production

Nuclear Technology & Canadian Oil Sands: Integration of Nuclear Power with In-Situ Oil Extraction
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering 77 Massachusetts Avenue, 24-105 Cambridge, MA 02139-4307

Abstract - This report analyzes the technical aspects and the economics of utilizing nuclear reactors to provide the energy needed for a Canadian oil sands extraction facility using Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) technology. The energy from the nuclear reactor would replace the energy supplied by natural gas, which is currently burned at these facilities. There are a number of concerns surrounding the continued use of natural gas, including carbon dioxide emissions and increasing gas prices. Three scenarios for the use of the reactor are analyzed1) using the reactor to produce only the steam needed for the SAGD process; (2) using the reactor to produce steam as well as electricity for the oil sands facility; and (3) using the reactor to produce steam, electricity, and hydrogen for upgrading the bitumen from the oil sands to syncrude, a material similar to conventional crude oil. Three reactor designs were down-selected from available options to meet the expected mission demands and siting requirements. These include the Canadian ACR- 700, Westinghouse’s AP 600 and the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR). The report shows that nuclear energy would be feasible, practical, and economical for use at an oil sands facility. Nuclear energy is two to three times cheaper than natural gas for each of the three scenarios analyzed. Also, by using nuclear energy instead of natural gas, a plant producing 100,000 barrels of bitumen per day would prevent up to 100 megatonnes of CO2 per year from being released into the atmosphere.


Alberta Tar Sands
Nuclear Power in Canada Appendix 2

(Updated February 2010)
In Canada, notably northern Alberta, there is major production of synthetic crude oil from bitumen extracted from tar sands. Alberta's tar sands are one of the largest hydrocarbon deposits in the world. Production from them is expected to grow strongly, but may limited by the amount of greenhouse gases emitted during extraction and upgrading of the bitumen. Open pit strip mining remains the main extraction method, but two in situ techniques are likely to be used more in future: cyclic steam stimulation (CSS) and steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD). These methods inject steam into the formation to heat the bitumen, allowing it to flow and be pumped to the surface.


Nuclear power could make steam and electricity and use some of the electricity for high-temperature electrolysis for hydrogen production. (Heavy water and oxygen could be valuable by-products of electrolysis.) The steam supply needs to be semi portable as tar sand extraction proceeds, so relatively small reactors which could be moved every decade or so may be needed. One problem related to the provision of steam for mining is that a nuclear plant is a long-life fixture, and mining of tar sands proceeds across the landscape, giving rise to very long steam transmission lines and consequent loss of efficiency.


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another_liberal Dec 2013 OP
hatrack Dec 2013 #1
LineLineReply Don't worry, the nuclear industry has a plan to clean up tar sands production
kristopher Dec 2013 #23
hue Dec 2013 #2
on point Dec 2013 #3
another_liberal Dec 2013 #7
Laelth Dec 2013 #4
jtuck004 Dec 2013 #5
RC Dec 2013 #8
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