New desalination technology turns brine into valuable chemicals

Desalination plants around the world produce about 27 billion gallons of drinking water each day. This drought-proof approach of converting brackish or salt water to potable water is costly because it requires a lot of energy, but new research outlines an efficient method for transforming water with very high concentrations of salt and chemicals, known as brine, into commercially valuable chemicals as part of the desalination process.

The new technology, published in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, splits the components of brine through a method called electrochemical water-salt splitting. This splits the solution into positively charged sodium and negatively charged chlorine ions. Once the bonds are broken, sodium and chlorine combine with other elements to form new chemicals including sodium hydroxide, hydrogen, and hydrochloric acid.

These renewed materials can be used to create anything from soap, paper, aluminum, detergents, and explosives to batteries and even food additives. 

“Our research was able to identify a design that not only costs less but also outperforms conventional water-splitting methods,” says lead author Linchao Mu. 

Current brine disposal methods can cause salinity and acidity spikes as well as oxygen-deficient conditions in local ecosystems, but the new technology results in a more diluted end product. This means the new approach could also help cut brine disposal costs, which can account for up to a third of total desalination expenses

Ultimately, this new technique more effectively recovers valuable resources from what would otherwise be considered “wastewater.” This not only creates valuable reused resources but also reduces pollution from industries that create wastewater.

Solution News Source

New desalination technology turns brine into valuable chemicals

Desalination plants around the world produce about 27 billion gallons of drinking water each day. This drought-proof approach of converting brackish or salt water to potable water is costly because it requires a lot of energy, but new research outlines an efficient method for transforming water with very high concentrations of salt and chemicals, known as brine, into commercially valuable chemicals as part of the desalination process.

The new technology, published in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, splits the components of brine through a method called electrochemical water-salt splitting. This splits the solution into positively charged sodium and negatively charged chlorine ions. Once the bonds are broken, sodium and chlorine combine with other elements to form new chemicals including sodium hydroxide, hydrogen, and hydrochloric acid.

These renewed materials can be used to create anything from soap, paper, aluminum, detergents, and explosives to batteries and even food additives. 

“Our research was able to identify a design that not only costs less but also outperforms conventional water-splitting methods,” says lead author Linchao Mu. 

Current brine disposal methods can cause salinity and acidity spikes as well as oxygen-deficient conditions in local ecosystems, but the new technology results in a more diluted end product. This means the new approach could also help cut brine disposal costs, which can account for up to a third of total desalination expenses

Ultimately, this new technique more effectively recovers valuable resources from what would otherwise be considered “wastewater.” This not only creates valuable reused resources but also reduces pollution from industries that create wastewater.

Solution News Source

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