The Bitumen Beyond Combustion (BBC) program develops technologies that convert Alberta oil sands components into value added products. Examples of BBC products include carbon fibres, high-quality asphalt binders, activated carbon, carbon nanotubes and graphene.

There are several benefits associated with diverting bitumen from the combustion cycle.

Using Alberta’s bitumen outside of the combustion cycle for non-combustion products reduces greenhouse gas emissions and simultaneously increases the value of Alberta’s bitumen by up to 133%;

Bitumen is a suitable feedstock to produce carbon fibre, a high demand material used in the aerospace, automotive, and technology sectors known for its exceptional strength and resistance to corrosion. The heavy portion of a barrel of oil is composed of a chemistry that is different to other carbon fibre feedstocks, but that would produce carbon fibre at a projected lower cost than current offerings. Reducing the cost of this lightweight material means that it can be applied more broadly, for example, to public infrastructure where increased longevity is desired. 

It's asphalt binder, however, that is the BBC product with the greatest potential for achieving commercial success in the short term. The size of the global market is large and Alberta’s asphalt binder is among the best in the world.  One of the reasons why is its naturally low wax content. The low wax content means that roads built with Alberta binder last much longer than other road surfaces because they are more resistant to cracking. With heavy EVs and reduced budgets for road paving, these products are going to be in increased demand.

Learn more about why the successful expansion of BBC production will support sustained demand for bitumen in the Daily Oil Bulletin BBC series.

To learn more about the case for BBC products and how they contribute to Alberta’s innovation advantage by downloading the Bitumen Beyond Combustion Whitepaper.