Brine is simply water with a high concentration of salt. Brine water from industries is wastewater produced due to industrial activities like oil and gas extraction, acid rock drainage and acid mining, desalination for human consumption and irrigation, wastewater treatment, and pulp and paper mill effluent, and many others.
The success of brine industrial services relies heavily on proper management, treatment, and treatment. This dependency is caused by the fact that brine from factories is rich in more substances alongside its salty nature. It can be very dangerous to the environment due to corrosion and sediment-forming effects of salts that can contaminate other chemicals diffused in them.
Management of Industrial Brine
The main options for managing brine can be categorized into two: brine treatment and brine disposal. Brine disposal involves discharging brine to sewers, injection wells, surface water, or delivering them to environmental service providers. On the other hand, brine treatment involves desalinating the brine for re-use, producing residual solids, through the zero liquid discharge, or producing a concentrated brine (lower liquid waste volume). The best method of getting rid of brine starts with thorough brine water analysis.
Why Brine Water Analysis is Important
Doing brine water analysis is essential in understanding the chemistry of the solution. Understanding essential indicators like metals and contaminants, salinity level (total solids dissolved), and scaling potential of water (sulfate and calcium) is a key determiner of the right method to implement. The benefits of this activity include the following:
- It will aid in evaluating regulatory requirements and determining the available options
- The chemical make-up of water classifies the technology that best fits a specific brine treatment procedure
- Enables early assessment of economic and project feasibility as well as any scaling fouling risks and pre-treatment requirements
- Identifies opportunities for helpful resource recovery like if the wastewater can be used as fertilizer
- Determines if the brine can be treated with a crystallizer to produce useful solids. Some of these solids can be used as road de-icing agents.
Polluted Brine Treatment Methods
Brine treatment is mostly considered if disposal is expensive, discharge methods are not available, or freshwater recovery is important. Many methods can help reduce volume and disposal costs of concentrated brine or help produce solids, like in zero liquid discharge method. Whichever method is applied, it will still yield freshwater. Methods commonly used include:
- Membrane filtration processes such as reverse osmosis or forward osmosis
- Evaporation processes like crystallizers, thermal brine concentrators, using mechanical vapor compression and steam
- Ion exchange processes like weak acid cation exchange and electrodialysis
- Zero liquid discharge systems
If it’s determined that disposal methods are a perfect way to get rid of the brine solution, then it’s advisable to go that way. However, it’s crucial to do a thorough analysis to establish if the solution isn’t harmful to the environment before discharging. The common disposal methods used include the following.
- Drying in evaporation ponds
- Desalination and cooling towers
- Diluting with other streams of water to limit environmental impact
- Installing underwater diffusers in sewage to completely diffuse brine, so it doesn’t accumulate at the sea bed
- Storing and reusing
- Injecting to deep walls
Brine industrial services can be challenging and complicated. It’s advisable to seek expert advice on the whole process. The professional will be able to give a fundamental analysis of the solution’s chemical chemistry, and the right way of discarding. They will determine whether the brine can be discharged to the environment directly or if there’s a need for it to be treated first.