Brine may be a word you associate with the ocean or pickles, but there are dozens of other sources of saltwater throughout the industrial and manufacturing sector. Brine is one of the most challenging materials to handle due to its corrosive nature and high chance of metal and mineral contamination. Yet without brine evaporation ponds, it wouldn’t be possible to enjoy affordable sea salt for the table or road salt for icy roads. With a little extra care and some quality materials, it’s possible to build brine water treatment ponds that perform according to plan for years.
Two Main Purposes of Brine Treatment
Brine treatment is separated into two main categories depending on purpose. Some brine evaporation ponds use fresh brine, often harvested from the ocean, to produce salt for various purposes. Evaporation is the oldest form of salt harvesting and continues to play a major role in the industry today. Even underground salt mines tend to use evaporation ponds to purify the salt and prepare it for use. Aside from salt, some brines are high in valuable minerals like lithium that are easily harvested from evaporation ponds.
The second primary use of brine treatment ponds is to process high salinity wastewater with no other purpose. With nothing to harvest or reuse from the liquid, it still needs proper storage until the volume is reduced as much as possible. Sludges and powdered solids tend to cost far less to dispose of than pure wastewater due to the volume and weight. Since brine isn’t easily processed through standard water treatment methods, it’s best to evaporate the water and deal with the salt and minerals left over instead.
Sources of Concentrated Brine
Some common sources of high salinity brine include:
- Desalination plants for producing fresh water from seawater. The plant can’t extract all of the water, leaving behind some amount of wastewater with extremely concentrated salt levels.
- Food processing facilities making pickles, olives, and even meat that’s injected with brine.
- The mining and oil refining industry, which relies on caustic and salty liquids to extract gas and oil from crude materials.
- Paper and pulp manufacturing facilities rely on salt to bleach the material rather than chlorine, but the resulting, salty wastewater requires special handling too.
Which Liners Can Handle Corrosive and Abrasive Salt?
Brine holding and evaporation ponds are prone to damage and leaks because high levels of salinity make wastewater challenging to hold. Salt is highly corrosive in sufficient concentrations, rusting away metal fixtures and damaging many types of flexible liner materials. When it settles over a layer of clay liner, it often leads to cracking as the water evaporations that create leaks in the pond. Abrasion is another common problem in harvesting ponds since the salt crystals are sharp and grind against the liner during some harvesting methods. Multi-layer liners, like ArmorPro liners from BTL, are the best option for brine evaporation ponds because the material can handle both the abrasive and corrosive nature of the salt.