Technology Overview

Nsolv’s patented technology uses warm solvent vapour (propane or butane) to extract bitumen in-situ. The Nsolv process can replace existing in-situ technologies, such as steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD), which rely on significant amounts of water and natural gas. Using solvent vapour offers the added benefit of partial in-situ upgrading. Simply put, a barrel of Nsolv oil is more valuable than that of SAGD.

The Nsolv Process

The Nsolv process uses commercially proven, horizontal-well technology widely implemented in current heavy oil recovery operations. Nsolv injects pure, heated solvent vapour into a bitumen reservoir, which then condenses and dissolves the bitumen, with the resulting liquids flowing by gravity into a production well. A modest temperature increase to the solvent and reservoir produces a significant increase in extraction rate. Solvents used are natural light hydrocarbons such as propane burned in a barbeque.

The Nsolv process involves a five-step procedure.

How the Nsolv process works



The solvent (generally propane or butane) is distilled to remove non-condensable gases such as methane.



The purified solvent is then warmed, turning into solvent vapour.

vapour vapour

Solvent Vapour Injection

The warmed solvent vapour is then pumped into the injection well. Once in the extraction chamber, the solvent condenses and dissolves the bitumen, producing a solution of both solvent and partially upgraded oil. Coke-forming asphaltenes are sequestered in the reservoir.

separation separation

Solvent Separation

Once pumped up to the surface, the mix is separated into three components:

Oil for sale


Naturally occurring water

The solvent is pumped back into the separator and re-purified, then recycled back into the reservoir. The produced oil is a partially upgraded 13-16 API oil. Heavy residue and heavy metals are left underground.


Solvent Make-Up

A minor amount of make-up solvent is added to the system to account for solvent vapour chamber growth. By the end of a well’s life over 95% of the solvent injected is recovered and reused.

Technology Evolution Highlights



Nsolv has more than 400 registered patent claims for the various stages of its heated solvent extraction process. These patents are registered in Canada, the U.S. and various global jurisdictions.