E&E Advanced Technology, a Japanese environmental technology venture company, has developed an innovative oil extracting system.

The Jet Injection Oil Extracting Processing System blasts oil sludge or oil sand with 500ºC steam pressurised to four atmospheres at the speed of sound. The supersonic speed and the high temperature of the steam injection breaks down the oil sludge into its separate elements, evaporating the oil and water content, and instantly separating the oil from the sludge. These are then separated, cooled and collected.

Of the oil recovered, 70% can be sold for use in ship engines and power plants, while the remaining 30% is used to fuel the system itself, providing additional cost savings and environmental benefits. The remaining dried solids have only 0.3% oil content; clean enough to be disposed of safely.

The oil extractor can process 350-500kg of oil sand or sludge per hour, or 3,500t of oil sludge or oil sand per year, if the extractor is operated on a 24-hour basis.

Some 1.5m tonnes of oil sludge are produced every year. Found at the bottom of oil drilling and production bases, storage terminals, and tankers and transports, oil sludge is thick, sticky and is difficult to dispose of. Current disposal methods include landfill, centrifugal separation and incineration, though these can be expensive and can lead to sea, air and soil pollution.

Oil sand is a mixture of bitumen, sand, mineral rich clays and water. The largest oil sand deposits are in Alberta, Canada and contain more than 1.7 trillion barrels of bitumen. Using current technology this could be turned into about 300bn barrels of crude oil. However, E&E believes the improved recovery efficiency of the oil extractor means that these reserves may yield much more.

E&E Advanced Technology

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