Microbial activity correlated with naphthenic acid concentration
The Government of Alberta estimates the total acreage of oil sands tailings ponds to be as high as 77 square kilometers. Although these ponds provide considerable benefit by promoting water reuse and withholding the release of toxic organic compounds such as naphthenic acids, there is a critical need to rehabilitate the land and treat all remaining water. The key challenge for treating naphthenic acids is the sheer volume of tailing ponds and the dilute, yet highly toxic nature of the contaminants.
Using a passive, in-pond biological approach requiring limited infrastructure, allows operators to cost-effectively treat the toxicity and ensure appropriate rehabilitation of the site. The microbial solution is designed to be tightly correlated with naphthenic acid concentration, ensuring no introduction of foreign microbes into the environment.