One of the biggest water challenges to date is what to do with brines produced in manufacturing processes. Many industries struggle to understand how to develop an effective, reliable brine management process, but the innovative solutions from Membrion demystify these processes. An expert in solving brine management issues across industries, Membrion founder and CEO, Greg Newbloom recently spoke at the UltraPure Micro Conference in Phoenix.
Membrion carefully evaluates each situation before recommending a brine management solution. Often, this differs from traditional methods. Membrion developed a simple, cost-effective, and easy-to-integrate module that includes our patented CeramIX® ion exchange membrane.
There is a growing demand for water due to a rising populous. This perpetually increases demand for water in industrial and domestic situations. Increased demand comes at a time when natural resources are shrinking. Global drought has led to a lack of fresh water, straining the remaining freshwater sources. To accommodate this demand, two options are critical, the recycling of water for reuse, and the use of seawater or brackish water. The actions that render the water from these processes usable for industries or safe for commercial domestic use is desalination, which leaves brine as a byproduct. This brine must be managed and treated with care for protecting the environment.
In the scientific review, “Brine Solution: Current Status, Future Management and Technology Development, desalination brine was defined as “extremely concentrated saline water; it contains various salts, nutrients, heavy metals, organic contaminants, and microbial contaminants.” The review addresses the conventional disposal of desalination brine and its negative impacts on natural and marine ecosystems that increase the levels of toxicity and salinity.
In every industry, there must be an understanding of the nature of brine and the issues surrounding its disposal to maintain safe utility systems. Membrion works across industries including meat processing, food and beverage, oil and gas, electronics, semiconductors, manufacturing, textiles, and more. Regardless of industry and location, protecting the water supply is of the utmost importance to Membrion. To protect the water supply, we give thoughtful attention to the ecosystems, and the goal is zero or minimum liquid discharge into the utility system. We accomplish this through effective brine management technologies.
Brines pose unique challenges, with concentrations and contaminants making it intrinsically expensive to manage. Until Membrion’s patented CeramIX® desalination membrane, treatment targets and reuse strategies were not well aligned with technologies. In addition, the desalination process yields brines which are typically high total dissolved solids (TDS) wastewater streams, technically > 30,000 ppm. These brines arise from reverse osmosis, and manufacturing processes across multiple industries which are often challenging to treat due to mineral saturation, pH, particle, and foulants.
Membrion collaborates with clients to adopt economically feasible methodologies for brine management. These enable the recovery of valuable resources like fresh water, minerals, and energy. Segregated brine streams minimize pre-treatment. To start the process, often water is re-used in non-process water applications. Though ESG is a common motivator, it is ROI that drives across the finish line. Membrion delivers a 1 to 3-year payback on most brine recovery projects.
When we look at the costs of brine management, the greatest value comes from recycling brines using Membrion’s CeramIX® ceramic desalination membrane. The cost of water for micro-E facilities is $0.01/gal. The value of water for micro-E facilities is
$1.00/gal. The cost of recycling brines is often less than $0.05/gal.
Membrion’s approach is more wholistic than conventional options in that it chooses where the recycled brine will go, sets treatment targets to be like the existing feed, identifies the brine stream, and then picks the technology that can bridge the gap. Other methods find the largest brine stream, select the technology that can treat it, and then figure out where to send the water and hope it works.
The segregation of brine streams is critical to minimizing pre-treatment and leveraging water reuse in non-process water applications is the lowest-risk way to start. Membrion takes care of this development to reassure clients that this is the most impactful step.
For many, including Membrion, there are environmental and green energy goals driving water recycling efforts. Recycled brines are an extremely cost-effective climate change mitigation strategy. The Stockholm International Water Institute broadly classifies water mitigation strategies as nature-based or technology-driven. In nature-based mitigation, ecosystems act as carbon sinks, absorbing greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining or enhancing biodiversity. Membrion’s solutions are tech-driven, involving wastewater management and treatment, and circular systems of reusing and recycling water. Membrion’s solution uses silica, a readily available resource, which must be used much more broadly to address climate change, meet financial targets, and as an integrated water treatment solution.
Membrion’s CeramIX® desalination membrane is easily integrated to amplify the efficiencies in your brine management processes, saving time, money, and most importantly, water.