NAIT Centre for Oil Sands Sustainability (COSS)

The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), Edmonton, Alberta
What the facility does

Screen, validate and scale-up third-party technologies in oil sands environmental sustainability.

Area(s) of Expertise

COSS was formed in 2010 with an endowment of $1.5M from the Ledcor Group matched by Alberta Provincial Government and seed funding from NAIT. COSS bridges the gap between existing oil sands environmental research and real-world solutions with an immediate impact on sustainability. Its primary focus is to enable solutions developed by third-party innovators and small-and-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to be screened, validated, scaled-up, and integrated within a systems-based approach to complex mineable oil sands tailings and water management challenges.
Strategically located in the Edmonton Research Park, COSS has over 7,000 sq. ft. fully equipped high-tech lab is complemented with an expert team of applied scientists, engineers, technologists and summer students. NARCOSS staff work in collaboration with the oil sands industry, academia, research and development organizations, and third-party innovators to take technology ideas from concept to commercialization.

Research Services

Applied research, technology verification/ validation/ scale-up and commercialization, oil sands sustainability technology development

Sectors of Application
  • Chemical industries
  • Energy (renewable and fossil)
  • Environmental technologies and related services
  • Mining, minerals and metals

Name of equipment

Description of function

Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatograph with Quadrupole Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer (UHPLC-QTOFMS)

The QTOF is equipped with 3 different ion sources (ESI, APPI and APCI) to enable a wide variety of samples to be analyzed. The UPLC enables the separation of components in complex mixtures.

Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer (MALDI-TOF)

Capabilities include characterization of homopolymer and copolymer molecular weight distributions, composition and deconvolution of homopolymer and copolymer mixtures, hydrocarbon analysis quantification and characterization

X-ray diffraction (XRD) with small and wide angle X-ray scattering (SAXS/WAXS)

Used for materials characterization such as crystal structure, physical properties of materials and thin film

Wavelength Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (XRF)

Capabilities include elemental analysis in different kinds of samples: solids, liquid or powder.

Atomic Force Microscope – Raman (AFM-Raman)

Used to link the molecular information obtained by confocal Raman microscopy with the high-resolution surface information (structural and topographic surface imaging on the nanometer scale) acquired by AFM.

Avanti J-26XP Centrifuge

Separation of solids from bitumen

Thermal Gravimetric Analyzer (TGA)

Utilized for thermal analysis in which physical and chemical properties of materials changes with temperature, such as decomposition, degradation mechanism, thermal stability, oxidation, combustion.

Particle size analyzer

Used to analyze particle size distribution of different materials, such as solids, emulsion solutions.

Micro Carbon Residue Analyzer(MCR)

Used for the characterization of coke formation tendency

UV–vis Spectrophotometer

Analyze a variety of samples by conventional spectroscopy but advanced techniques will be implemented using the fibre optic accessory

Bruker 450 Gas Chromatograph (2 units)

Equipped for high temperature simulated distillation.

Bruker Varian 3900 Gas Chromatograph

Equipped with a split/split less injector and FID and is used for the analysis of lower boiling point components

Bruker FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer)

FTIR with fixed path; attenuated reflectance and diffuse reflectance cells for the analysis of wide variety of organic compounds, films and powders.

Anton Paar SVM 3000 Viscometer

Used to measure the dynamic viscosity and density of oily samples, and is equipped with a 48-position auto-sampler.

  • Canada Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA)
  • Alberta Innovates Energy and Environment Solutions (AIEES)
  • Ledcor Environmental Solutions Ltd.
  • Suncor Energy Inc.
  • Enbridge Inc.
  • RJ Oil Sands
  • Apex Engineering
  • Champion Technologies
  • Conetec Investigations Ltd.
  • Switchable Solutions Inc.
  • Oil Sands Research and Information Network (OSRIN)
  • University of Alberta



Publication: Zhao, B., R. Currie and H. Mian, 2012. Catalogue of Analytical Methods for Naphthenic Acids Related to Oil Sands Operations. Oil Sands Research and Information Network, University of Alberta, School of Energy and the Environment, Edmonton, Alberta. OSRIN Report No. TR-21. 65 pp.

Publication: Summary of 2013 Tailings Technology Development and Commercialization Workshop. Author or Creator: Mian H.,
Fassina N., Mukherjee A., Fair A., Powter, C.B

Magazine Article