The potential of raw material extraction from thermal brines - Successful milestones of the BrineMine project
The BrineMine Project is a German-Chilean multidisciplinary research project realized by research and industry partners. The focus is on development of strategies for raw material and water extraction from geothermal springs (Brine Mining) in Chile. The topics can be separated into a geological/geochemical part and a mechanical engineering part, which are processed in close cooperation by the project consortium. In the first part, the economic potential of the dissolved raw materials in thermal spring waters in Chile is assessed by analyzing existing geochemical data of different sites. This is complemented by hydrogeochemical and geophysical exploration campaigns. The second part focuses on the development, construction and implementation of a prototype for pre-treatment and concentration of geothermal brines. With the comprehensive expertise of the team, a treatment strategy was developed and tested in a geothermal power plant, enabling controlled silica precipitation in order to overcome this limiting factor for geothermal energy production and associated raw material extraction. In this study, successful milestones of the BrineMine project are presented. The economic potential of elements in Chilean thermal waters is demonstrated. Additionally, the global potential of Brine Mining is outlined. The development of the silica treatment strategy is further described, as well as a possible integration of a prototype into an operating geothermal power plant. Finally, the construction and implementation of a large-scale first-generation prototype are presented with promising field results.