Carleton Project to Help Manage Oil Sands Tailings Receives NSERC Funding

Carleton University’s Paul Simms, professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, in partnership with the University of Alberta, has received more than $2 million over four years through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) Program.

This research will investigate new faster and cheaper measurement devices and techniques for evaluating long-term management of oil sands tailings, which could lead to savings in the billions of dollars.

The management of tailings in the oil sands industry continues to be a challenge both economically and environmentally. New technologies may reduce environmental impacts and facilitate reclamation of tailings sites and ecological restoration, but there is substantial room for increasing technical performance and finding cost efficiencies. Recently, priorities have shifted towards longer-term, low-cost solutions rather than high-cost solutions that target short-term goals. Because of this shift, there is a greater need to understand the natural long-term behaviour of tailings.

Research Benefits

Simms’ project will advance Canada’s commitment to reducing the environmental impacts of energy production, conversion and use. It will help manage tailings and support the development of new technologies that target and respond to Canada’s energy needs and enhance the competitiveness of Canada’s clean tech sector, building on Canada’s strengths and competitive advantage.


“Carleton’s world-class researchers are looking for answers to complex and impactful questions. NSERC’s incredible support will help them solidify the university’s position as a leading research institution in this important area.” Rafik Goubran, vice-president (Research and International)

“I am working to accelerate reclamation of tailings ponds in Canada’s oil sands. This work is crucial to restore native forests and improve ecosystem health and natural carbon sequestration. My team of students will work closely with industry to implement the findings into tailings management plans. Improving the environmental sustainability of the oil sands and assisting its transformation into a low-carbon energy alternative is vital to Canada’s economy.” Prof. Paul Simms

Media Contact
Steven Reid
Media Relations Officer
Carleton University
613-520-2600, ext. 8718

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