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Biao Huang

Biao Huang

Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering
University of Alberta

Chair Title

NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Control of Oil Sands Processes

Chair Program

Industrial Research Chairs Program


Senior Chairholder since 2011


Oil sands growth is expected to move Canada from its position as the world’s eighth largest crude oil producer to the fourth largest by 2015. Despite the positive economic outlook, Canada faces challenges concerning the sustainability of its oil sands industry in relation to environmental issues. The search for solutions to the environmental impact of oil sands development (e.g., water use, greenhouse gas emissions, tailings) has typically focussed on the processes that make up an oil sands operation. The goal of this Industrial Research Chair (IRC) is to take a different approach by focussing on the systems that control these processes.

Process control systems are critical to process industries because they allow for steady and safe process operations, consistent product quality, less waste and better control of emissions. Achieving better process control in the oil sands industry is not simply a matter of importing technologies from other industries. Control systems in the oil sands industry face many unique challenges, and this IRC will develop solutions that directly address key issues of responsible development. These include data solution, instrument solution, soft sensor solution, and plant-wide solution for optimal process control. In collaboration with the oil sands industrial partners, the solutions developed will enhance the profitability, safety and environmental sustainability of the oil sands operations, and will help support the sustainable development of the Canadian energy industry in general. Areas of research in this Chair program are built on Dr. Huang’s expertise in process control, system identification, process data analysis, control performance monitoring, and fault diagnosis (specifically in fault diagnosis), along with his extensive research and development experience with oil sands industries.

The NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Control of Oil Sands Processes will extend the breadth and depth of Canada’s oil sands expertise by creating a pool of highly trained engineers in process control and systems engineering. The proposed solutions will also be beneficial to other sectors, such as mineral processing, petrochemical, and pulp and paper. The integrated program will synergize fundamental and applied research, enable collaboration with industry to convert research outcomes into implemented solutions, and train highly qualified personnel with excellent job prospects. As a result, Canada will be well positioned to meet its future process industry needs.


  • Suncor Energy Inc.
  • Syncrude Canada Ltd.

Contact Information

Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering
University of Alberta
7th Floor, ECERF
Edmonton, Alberta
T6G 2V4

Tel.: 780-492-9016
Fax: 780-492-2881

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