Laboratory experiments were performed to investigate the effect of pH on (a) bitumen film thinning and film rupture process (b) bitumen/water contact line displacement and (c) the static contact angle of bitumen on a glass surface in the presence of an aqueous medium. A coated bitumen film on a glass surface was found to thin down and rupture spontaneously when a few drops of water having a pH of 11 was placed on it. In another experiment, a bitumen coated glass plate was submerged in water. The contact line of an initially circular bitumen film on the glass surface displaced in the inward direction to take the shape of a droplet. Measurement of the dynamic contact angle of bitumen with time showed that the bitumen/water contact line displacement was faster at a pH of 3 than at a pH of 11. However, the static contact angle of bitumen on the glass surface was found to be large at the high pH of 11, a condition conducive to easy detachment of bitumen droplet from the glass surface. The above observations suggest that a pH cycle might be desirable in bitumen liberation from oil sands.
- Athabasca oil sands
- Dynamic and static contact angles
- Hot water process