Mechanics of Oil Sands Slurry Flow in a Flexible Pipeline System


Slurry transportation is an economic haulage system in oil sands and coal-mining operations characterized by long haulage distances and rugged terrain. In such conditions, the ton-km-hr limits are exceeded creating extreme tire wear and high maintenance costs. Steep haul grades and rugged terrain also cause mechanical wear and tear, which decrease haulage equipment economic life. Hydraulic transportation is a proven and viable technology for slurry transportation in such conditions. Currently, stationary pipeline transportation is being used in transporting minerals in many mines. There is an increasing demand to create slurrified minerals at the mining faces to be transported to the processing plant. However, stationary pipelines are not capable for dealing with the rapidly changing configuration of the mining faces. In this paper, the authors develop the ground articulating pipeline (GAP) technology to address this problem. The GAP system consists of pipelines connected together with flexible joints in each pipe section, which allows deflection to avoid torsional stresses from the adjoining frames. This flexible arrangement accommodates the horizontal and vertical displacement of the mobile system as it follows the hydraulic shovels in the excavation process. The mechanics of the GAP system, as well as the production-economic function, are formulated and simulated over an extended period using data and information from Syncrude's North Mine. The results show that the GAP system is technically and economically viable for productivity between 6,300 and 6,500 tons per hour. The simulated head loss for the GAP system is 15.66 m per 400 m, which compares with 20 m per 400 m for the existing stationary system at Syncrude. The pressure gradient-radius curves are asymptotic to the pipe boundaries, which indicates steep axial pressure gradient in these areas.


Mining Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Flexible Pipeline Transportation; Multiphase Flow; Numerical Modeling; Oil Sands Slurry; Simulation Modeling

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Document Type

Article - Journal

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© 2002 Taylor & Francis, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2002