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


While the economic benefits of oil sands development are evident, sustainable development of this valuable Canadian resource involves minimizing the costs of oil extraction as well as environmental consequences. The NSERC-IRC in Control of Oil Sands Processes focuses on the systems that control oil sands operations. Process control systems are critical because they allow for steady and safe process operations, efficient production, consistent product quality, less waste, and better control of emissions.

This IRC program has contributed tremendously to industry, completing a number of successful projects for partner companies. Some solutions have achieved annual benefits estimated in millions of dollars. Renewal of the NSERC-IRC in Control of Oil Sands Processes extends state-of-the-art fundamental and applied research in process control, establishes scientific foundations for control of oil sands processes, and provides scientific leadership to the oil sands industry in process systems engineering and control. The renewed IRC will lead to innovative estimation,vonitoring and data-mining technologies in addition to supporting and improving the established solutions. The objective is to assist the oil sands industry in identifying and removing factors that limit operational efficiency in all stages of mining, in-situ recovery, bitumen extraction and upgrading. This will prepare the oil sands industry to meet the challenges of reducing production cost and environmental impact. To ensure the IRC research program is relevant to industry, the Chair collaborates closely with its partners: Syncrude, one of the largest producers of crude oil from Canada’s oil sands, Suncor, the company that pioneered commercial development of the oil sands; Cenovus, one of the major players in in-situ oil sands extraction; Spartan Controls, a major technology and equipment supplier to the process industries in Western Canada; and Emerson, a global solution provider in technology and engineering for industrial, commercial, and consumer markets around the world. Areas of research in this Chair program are built on Dr. Huang’s expertise in process control, system identification, data analytics, control performance monitoring, and fault diagnosis, along with his extensive research and development experience with oil sands industries.

The NSERC-IRC in Control of Oil Sands Processes expands Canada’s oil sands expertise by creating a pool of engineers highly trained 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 industries, synergizing fundamental and applied research, enabling collaboration with industry, converting research outcomes into implemented solutions, and training highly qualified personnel.


  • Syncrude Canada Ltd.
  • Suncor Energy
  • Cenovus Energy Inc.
  • Spartan Controls Ltd.
  • Emerson

Contact information

Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta



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