Cleaning up oil from tar sands – New Scientist

There’s a good article in this week’s New Scientist on “Can Oil from Tar Sands be Cleaned Up?” The answer it seems is yes.


“Canadian tar sands contain an estimated 170 billion barrels of recoverable oil, second only to Saudi Arabia’s reserves, (and they) … dig up the tarry bitumen in gigantic open pit mines, then separate and refine it. The process destroys habitat and creates vast lakes of toxic residues. The Canadian government estimates that oil from tar sands takes three to five times as much energy to produce as conventional oil.”


However … “Nascent technologies may further reduce the greenhouse gas cost of tar sands extraction … transform the bitumen into lighter oil underground, before it is pumped to the surface … and many of the toxic sulphur and nitrogen compounds remain underground, which removes the surface pollution.”

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One Response to Cleaning up oil from tar sands – New Scientist

  1. David Stanworth 17 April, 2009 at 9:50 am #

    If you want to read more National Geographic Magazine ran a feature on the tar sands industry in Alberta in the March 09 issue.

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