Video

How do they get the oil out of oilsands?

In this simple table-top demonstration, energy expert Richard Dixon from the University of Alberta shows the CBC's Briar Stewart how to get bitumen out of sand and clay.
Energy expert Richard Dixon shows the CBC's Briar Stewart how to get bitumen out of sand 3:02

Alberta has the world's third largest proven reserve of oil, but most of it — 168 billion barrels — is in the form of oilsands, a mixture of sand, water, clay and bitumen.  

The challenge for producers is separating the bitumen, which is refined into synthetic crude, from the sand and clay.  

In this simple table-top demonstration, energy expert Richard Dixon from the University of Alberta shows the CBC's Briar Stewart how it's done.

Of course, it looks much different when done on an industrial scale, with 1.9 million barrels being produced each day.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.