Industrial Brine: Description and Uses

Typically brine refers to a solution of water that carries a certain level of salt. It occurs naturally throughout the world in various locations and conserves important ecological functions. There is another type of brine that has become more common as mankind has further developed its industrial power known as industrial brine. This type is not a natural product of the earth and can have harmful environmental effects due to the toxic solids that are found within it other than salt. It is commonly produced in a variety of industrial applications but is especially common in the desalination industry. Luckily it is possible to not only store it properly to prevent environmental harm but it can be used in order to generate new industrial compounds that are useful and profitable.

Processing Industrial Brine

There are several processes that can be used in order to properly dispose of this industrial waste product or make it available for reuse. Let’s go ahead and look at some of the most common ways that this is done.

Recycling Wastewater

There are a lot of various industrial techniques that make use of brine. Some of the most common include Hydrometallurgy, lithium carbonate, and various other manufacturing plants. It can even be used for irrigation and to get rid of ice. This type of brine will typically have various pollutants or other compounds that have contaminated it such as heavy metals, organic compounds, sulfates, and many others. In order to get these contaminants removed from the brine, it will be treated in a variety of ways. Various chemicals can be added to it in order to help remove many of the larger contaminants such as coagulants and polymers. The presence of calcium inside of the brine can lead to the development of scale on equipment.

The common method to prevent this from occurring is to utilize ion exchange technology. Many companies will use something called a chelating resin which can help to remove heavy metals without altering the salt concentration of the solution. In the case of manufacturing plants specializing in lithium production, they will often use a special type of high-pressure membrane which will allow the separation of the lithium products from the rest of the brine.

Removing Waste Discharge

Most of the time brine will not be toxic but not all the time. Occasionally they can contain heavy metal concentration or other toxic chemicals that could affect the water supply in the local community as well as the local water life. In order to properly dispose of the brine, there are several types of discharge regulations that must be met. These regulations specify a specific level of various contaminants that can be legally present in the brine at the time of discharge. In order to remove excess contaminants most common technology that is utilized our ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis. These make use of specialty membranes that can help to remove the harmful products from the solution while allowing the majority of the brine to pass through.

In certain scenarios, they will use a different type of technology that takes advantage of the natural process of evaporation. The two most common ways of achieving this are through an outdoor evaporation pond or with a vacuum evaporation technique. Both of these will ultimately lead to the crystallization of salt and a purified stream of water. These can be used concurrently with other treatment methods in order to improve the overall efficiency of the treatment solutions that have been implemented by the corporation in question to help treat the brine solutions before disposal.