Raw Materials’ Sustainable Mining Achieved From Thermal Springs By Scientists

Jul, 2021 - By SMI

Raw Materials’ Sustainable Mining Achieved From Thermal Springs By Scientists

Significant steps of this process have been already successfully tested at a demonstration plant.

Cesium, Lithium, or gold even —along with energy, geothermal waters could hold mineral treasures. Within the research project BrineMine, researchers at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) wanted to power this potential along with supporting sustainable mining at Chile. Along with their partners, they’re developing methods and strategies to extract mineral resources straight in the geothermal power plant. Here, not just minerals and energy are being extracted, but even drinking water. Significant steps of process have been already successfully tested at a demonstration plant.

Chile’s mineral resources are of massive importance for Germany. As per the World Bank statistics, thousands of tons worth of valued minerals are brought in from this country in South American annually, including lithium-ion batteries’ raw materials. However their extraction leads to social and ecological problems. The BrineMine’s (a Chilean-German research project) AGW team, is designing the necessary technologies and strategies. AGW has vast cooperation history in the geothermal research field in Chile. Its key partner is the Centro de Excelencia en Geotermia de Los Andes (CEGA).

A part of this transdisciplinary initiative of research is devoted to the thermal wells’ geothermal and geochemical potential in Chile for identifying suitable sites. A survey of data is being conducted for determining the potential raw materials focusing on the Atacama Desert’s thermal fields. Furthermore, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) participates in the project of BrineMine by designing plant technology for industrial use later. It’s based upon a novel chain of process: First, the geothermal brine’s heat is used for recovery of energy. The cooled fluid, having a concentration that is relatively low, then is pre-concentrated through reverse osmosis; simultaneously, drinkable water is achieved. Then the brine concentrate is further concerted through membrane distillation until it’s saturated.

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