Centre for Oil Sands Sustainability

The Centre for Oil Sands Sustainability (COSS) is a state-of-the art research lab staffed by an expert team of applied scientists, engineers and technicians.

We are committed to a future where the environmental and economic challenges of the oil sands have been solved.  In collaboration with our partners, our diverse and resourceful team is helping to achieve this by applying scientific principles, bringing our knowledge to practice and  connecting partners with shared interests.  This will lead to the restoration of pristine, functional landscapes for Albertans.​

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Oil Sands Tailings 101 course

Registration for this course, taking place January 31 - February 3, 2022, is now open.

Oil Sands Tailings 101

Expand your knowledge on tailings management with this virtual course that will cover practical methods and technology to treat fluid fine tailings.

What we do

We bridge the gap between existing oil sands environmental research and relevant solutions, taking innovative ideas from bench to scale-up. We work with businesses and industry to develop technologies that improve the economic and environmental performance of the oil sands industry.

The Centre for Oils Sands Sustainability is a Technology Access Centre  (TAC), part of  a network of 60 TACs across the country. 

As a TAC we help Canadian-based businesses get their products, processes and services market-ready by:

  • Offering objective advice and specialized technical services
  • Providing training related to new types of equipment and processes
  • Conducting applied research to develop solutions that address company challenges.

 Our Commitment to Safety

At the centre, we are committed to having a safe workplace for all of our staff, researchers, and visitors. We believe that safety is a top priority.

Our Services

We aim to validate innovative oil sands technologies developed by companies and explore new bitumen recovery technologies.

Meet the Team

Our amazing and highly qualified team of scientists and specialists helps meet the needs of industry and Albertans

Advancing Industry Solutions

We are focused on developing applied research solutions to separate clean water from oil sands tailings.

Work with us

The Centre for Oil Sands Sustainability provides the following services:

  • Applied Research Projects - working in partnership with industry to develop solutions to their challenges, with the ability to leverage grant funding in Alberta and Canada to support projects.
  • Knowledge to Practice Projects – including custom training and industry-specific short courses, workshops and seminars.
  • Fee for Service Technical and Business Projects – providing access to cutting-edge technology and equipment to assist with product development, commercialization and productivity.
    • Interactive Visit Program - this program provides qualified companies up to 20 hours of access to the equipment, facilities and expertise of our centre in order to solve a specific business or technical challenge. 
  • Centre Programs
    • Suncor’s Permanent Aquatic Storage Structure (PASS) Program - Polymer screening and validation for Suncor’s PASS Application
    • COSIA’s Membrane Technology Assessment Program (MTAP) - High-temperature, high-pressure membrane assessment program
    • Online Water Cut Measurement Technology Assessment Program - High temperature, high pressure testing of instruments (oil-in-water loop); High temperature, high pressure testing of sensors (water-in-oil loop)

Working with Industry 

Our focus

  • Solid/liquid separation - Thickeners, clarifiers, high density flocculation, filter press, centrifuge), flotation
  • Characterization of aqueous materials - major anions & cations, naphthenic acid fraction compounds, slurry viscosity, slurry yield stress
  • Characterization of oil-based materials/sediment and water analysis in oil
  • Characterization of mineral solids and ashes
  • Technology validation for oil sands tailings
  • Characterization of oils and contaminants for pipelines

Industry Partners and Funding

The centre was founded through a $1.5 million endowment from Ledcor Group and seed funding from NAIT, establishing the Ledcor Applied Research Chair in Oil Sands Environment Sustainability. With additional funding from key industry partners like Suncor, as well as federal and provincial funding, the centre carries out applied research, pilot testing and technology development designed to meet the needs of Alberta’s oil sands industry.

We would like to specifically acknowledge the following Funders:

Performing Batch Extraction Unit test to separate bitumen from oil sands.

​The centre does not maintain or commercialize intellectual property. The centre's role is to facilitate commercialization of new products and solutions so industry and its partners can benefit.

Our Equipment

  • X-ray Diffractometer (XRD)
  • Wavelength Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (XRF)
  • Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatograph With Quadruple Time-of-Light Mass Spectrometer (HPLC-Q-TOF-MS)
  • Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer
  • Thermal Gravimetric Analyzer (TGA)
  • Particle Size Analyzer
  • Metro Carbon Residue Analyzer (MCR)
  • UV-VIS Spectrophotometer
  • Atomic Force Microscope – RAMAN (AFM-RAMAN)
  • Bruker 450 Gas Chromatograph
  • Bruker Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR)
  • Anton Paar SVM 3000 Viscometer
  • Ion Chromatography (IC)
  • Avanti J-26XP Centrifuge