Student Research

Extraction of Minerals from Sea Water Desalination Concentrate Stream

Desalination is a process where salts and other minerals are removed from saline water. In the desalination process, seawater is treated and two products are made: clean water and highly concentrated saline water. This more concentrated saline water is considered as brine. Brine is typically considered a waste product from the desalination process. It is often dumped back into the ocean. There are possible methods of beneficially using brine stream. Halophiles are bacteria that live in extremely salty environments. Instead of treating it as waste, brine can actually be a viable resource for halophilic bacteria. Studies demonstrated that such bacteria can precipitate salts and minerals from saline water when metabolizing. It has been shown that the quantity and size of biomineralized deposits decreased over time, but the time required for precipitation increased with increasing salts concentration. The bacteria precipitated minerals best with a salt concentration of 2.5%. The bacteria absorbed calcium, magnesium, and precipitate carbonate. There exists bacteria out there that can precipitate minerals, and can possibly be applied in brine mineral precipitation. Future experiments are needed to identify bacteria that can precipitate certain minerals from brine. This seawater mining process can make profit within the mining industry, justifying the cost of using bacteria after desalination. Mining with bacteria will be an inexpensive process that requires minimal energy.

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