Student Research

Comparison of Brine Water Disposal Methods

Regions that struggle to meet the population’s water demands have resorted to water desalination which is a process that removes salts from saline water to produce fresh water. A consequence of desalination is the byproduct brine (also known as concentrate or reject water), which is a solution of salt and liquid with high salinity content. The challenge with brine is the disposal costs and environmental contamination. In this paper, desalination facilities in coastal and inland regions are analyzed. The current coastal method is ocean discharge and the inland methods include: surface water and sewage discharge, evaporation ponds, deep-well injection, land application, aquaculture, agriculture, solar energy, and salt extraction. The focus is on the comparison of which disposal methods are most economically and environmentally compatible for desalination facilities in the United States. The main criteria for judging the selection of a disposal method include: volume, quality of concentrate, geographical considerations, and costs. The result of this project is that the adequate methods for a desalination facility depend on the geographical and economical parameters of the region. The future plan for this project is to further study methods that are yet more economically and environmentally sound and that can potentially lead to a zero waste process.

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