TECHNOLOGY

Technology Basics

 


Green Clean Technology

Switchable Solutions’ proprietary Switchable Hydrophilicity Solvent (SHS) technology utilizes a common non-toxic gas, CO2, to alter its solubility properties. The "off" form of SHS (Figure 1) won’t dissolve in water but will dissolve other hydrocarbons. When it is “off” SHS is oil-like and of course oil and water don’t mix. (Figure 2)

When CO2 is added to the water/SHS system, the solvent undergoes a reaction, switching it "on", which transforms it into a water-soluble state; at this stage, a hydrocarbon or oil target material can be isolated. (Figure 3)

Removal of the CO2 results in a return to the "off’ form and separation into the water/SHS two-phase mixture. (Figure 4) The separated SHS and process water can then be recycled within the process or potentially reused for another application.

 

SSI Basics

This switching process allows for distillation free extraction of the target material and removal of the solvent. Distillation, either via steam-stripping or direct addition of heat and/or vacuum, is an energy intensive process that can account for up to 80% of energy costs for a process like bitumen extraction from oil sands.

In addition, chemical solvents are often flammable or toxic and safely heating these solvents requires additional cost in the form of engineering and risk management measures to prevent worker exposure, minimize environmental release and mitigate fire-hazards. Switchable Solutions technology has the potential to deliver the same or better process results and compliance with increasingly restrictive regulations with lower cost, risk and complexity.