Suncor Forthills OPP E&T – Oil Sands Processing

In the Canadian oil sands of Alberta, bitumen-rich sand is excavated by surface mining.


In the Canadian oil sands of Alberta, bitumen-rich sand is excavated by surface mining. Crude bitumen extracted from oil sands is considerably viscous and does not easily flow at ambient temperatures, especially during the colder months in northern Alberta.
Mined materials are transported by truck to crushers where they are pulverized, sized, and fed by conveyor to the slurry preparation line for processing. The crushed and sized material is routed to a rotary wet screen where it is mixed with hot water and chemicals to form a slurry, which is heated to separate the bitumen from the sand and impurities. The bitumen is skimmed off and transported to the primary extraction site via hydro-transport lines.

The slurry preparation process produces gases and fumes, which must be extracted. The exhaust fans that extract these fumes must be robust, reliable, and corrosion resistant. In addition, because of the environment within the slurry preparation plant, the building must be well ventilated. When an oil sands mining operation in northern Alberta needed a source for the process exhaust gas and facility ventilation fans, it turned to the local Aerovent representative to supply them.

Project Snapshot


Oil and Gas


Suncor Energy


Roof Ventilators and Panel Wall Fans for Building Heat Removal; Exhaust Fans for Process Gas RemovalR


Provide Fans that Meet Performance, reliability, and Environmental requirements


The ventilation fans for the slurry preparation building had to be able to withstand extremely low temperatures of the harsh northern Alberta winters. Materials and components for these fans needed to be able to tolerate temperatures as low as -40º F to prevent embrittlement. To keep the building comfortable, the ventilation fans had to provide enough air flow to extract the heat produced by the various processes within the facility. In addition, because of the caustic nature of the fumes from the slurry preparation lines, stainless steel was required for critical parts of the process exhaust gas fans. The building ventilation fans as well as the process gas exhaust fans had to be rugged, reliable, easily maintained, and corrosion-resistant.

Easton Solution

To meet the ventilation requirements of the slurry preparation building, Aerovent supplied several belt-driven swing-out VJBD roof ventilator fans and direct-drive DDP panel fans. To satisfy the criteria for eliminating gases from the slurry preparation processes, Aerovent supplied several belt-driven radial bladed MHA fans with 50-inch wheels. The swing-out construction of the VJBD fans allows them to be accessed for quick and easy maintenance. Aerovent engineers designed the fans—the largest of which is 54 inches—to withstand the extreme cold of the northern Alberta winters. The DDP fans are highly reliable and require very little maintenance because they contain no fan bearings, drive sheaves, or belts. Because they are reversible, they are used for both supply and exhaust fans. These panel fans—the largest of which is 48 inches—were also designed to withstand extremely cold temperatures. The northern Alberta oil-sands mine received rugged, resilient VJBD, DDP, and MHA fans from Aerovent. The ventilator fans met the owner’s performance and environmental criteria: the ability to resist corrosion and to withstand temperatures as low as -40º F. The process gas exhaust fans perform as designed: removing fumes from the slurry preparation lines.In the oil and gas industry, downtime is not an option. Reliability and ease of maintenance ensure longevity of these robust fans. Supplying a wide variety of fans from a single source—and satisfying the owner’s specifications—exemplifies Aerovent’s unique engineering expertise.