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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2020-257
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2020-257
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  06 Aug 2020

06 Aug 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Quantifying fugitive gas emissions from an oil sands tailings pond with open-path FTIR measurements

Yuan You1,a, Samar G. Moussa1, Lucas Zhang2, Long Fu2, James Beck3, and Ralf M. Staebler1 Yuan You et al.
  • 1Air Quality Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Toronto, M3H 5T4, Canada
  • 2Alberta Environment and Parks, Edmonton, T5J, 5C6, Canada
  • 3Suncor Energy Inc., Calgary, T2P 3Y7, Canada
  • anow at: Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, M5S 1A7, Canada

Abstract. Fugitive emissions from tailings ponds contribute significantly to facility emissions in the Alberta Oil Sands, but details on chemical emission profiles and the temporal and spatial variability of emissions to the atmosphere are sparse, since flux measurement techniques applied for compliance monitoring have their limitations. In this study, open-path Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy was evaluated as a potential alternative method for quantifying spatially representative fluxes for various pollutants (methane, ammonia, and alkanes) from a particular pond, using vertical flux gradient and inverse dispersion methods. Gradient fluxes of methane averaged 3.7 g m−2 d−1 but were 40 % lower than nearby eddy covariance measurements, while inverse dispersion fluxes agreed to within 11 %. Significant NH3 emission fluxes were observed (0.11 g m−2 d−1 (92 tonnes y−1)), and total alkane fluxes were estimated to be 1.33 g m−2 d−1 (1120 tonnes y−1), representing 12 % of the facility emissions.

Yuan You et al.

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Yuan You et al.

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Short summary
Tailings ponds in the Alberta Oil Sands represent an insufficiently characterized source of fugitive emissions of pollutants to the atmosphere. In this study, a novel approach of using a Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer along with measurements of atmospheric turbulence is shown to present a practical, non-intrusive method of quantifying emission rates for ammonia, alkanes and methane. Results from a one-month field study are presented and discussed.
Tailings ponds in the Alberta Oil Sands represent an insufficiently characterized source of...
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