Mineral extraction from seawater brines has emerged as a viable solution to reduce Europe's reliance on imported Critical Raw Materials (CRM). However, the economic viability of this approach hinges on the local demand for sodium chloride, the primary product of such extraction processes. This study investigates the potential of residual brines, commonly known as "bitterns," generated during solar sea-salt extraction in traditional saltworks, as an alternative source of minerals. The Mediterranean region, encompassing South-European, NorthAfrican, Near East coasts, and parts of the Atlantic regions, is particularly conducive to exploring this prospect due to its extensive solar sea salt industry. Saltworks in the region, adopting various operational strategies based on feed quality or local climate conditions, produce different types of bitterns, each holding a latent resource potential that has remained largely unexplored. Within the framework of the EU-funded SEArcularMINE project, it was conducted an extensive analytical campaign to characterize bitterns collected from a diverse saltworks network. The analysis revealed the presence of sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, sulfate, and bromide in concentrations ranging from g/ kg, while boron, calcium, lithium, rubidium, and strontium were found in the mg/kg range. Additionally, trace elements (TEs) such as cobalt, cesium, gallium, and germanium were detected at concentrations in the order of mu g/kg. Detailed results on the composition of bitterns are presented, emphasizing the distinct characteristics observed at different sites. The estimated potential for mineral recovery from these bitterns is approximately 190 euro/m3, considering the production capacity of about 9 Mm3 per year in the Mediterranean area. This finding underscores the significant contribution that mineral recovery from bitterns could make in securing access to CRMs for the European Union.

Randazzo S., Vicari F., López J., Salem M., Lo Brutto R., Azzouz S., et al. (2024). Unlocking hidden mineral resources: Characterization and potential of bitterns as alternative sources of critical raw materials. JOURNAL OF CLEANER PRODUCTION, 436 [10.1016/j.jclepro.2023.140412].

Unlocking hidden mineral resources: Characterization and potential of bitterns as alternative sources of critical raw materials

Randazzo S.;Vicari F.;Cataldo S.;Muratore N.;Pettignano A.;Cipollina A.
2024-01-01

Abstract

Mineral extraction from seawater brines has emerged as a viable solution to reduce Europe's reliance on imported Critical Raw Materials (CRM). However, the economic viability of this approach hinges on the local demand for sodium chloride, the primary product of such extraction processes. This study investigates the potential of residual brines, commonly known as "bitterns," generated during solar sea-salt extraction in traditional saltworks, as an alternative source of minerals. The Mediterranean region, encompassing South-European, NorthAfrican, Near East coasts, and parts of the Atlantic regions, is particularly conducive to exploring this prospect due to its extensive solar sea salt industry. Saltworks in the region, adopting various operational strategies based on feed quality or local climate conditions, produce different types of bitterns, each holding a latent resource potential that has remained largely unexplored. Within the framework of the EU-funded SEArcularMINE project, it was conducted an extensive analytical campaign to characterize bitterns collected from a diverse saltworks network. The analysis revealed the presence of sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, sulfate, and bromide in concentrations ranging from g/ kg, while boron, calcium, lithium, rubidium, and strontium were found in the mg/kg range. Additionally, trace elements (TEs) such as cobalt, cesium, gallium, and germanium were detected at concentrations in the order of mu g/kg. Detailed results on the composition of bitterns are presented, emphasizing the distinct characteristics observed at different sites. The estimated potential for mineral recovery from these bitterns is approximately 190 euro/m3, considering the production capacity of about 9 Mm3 per year in the Mediterranean area. This finding underscores the significant contribution that mineral recovery from bitterns could make in securing access to CRMs for the European Union.
2024
Randazzo S., Vicari F., López J., Salem M., Lo Brutto R., Azzouz S., et al. (2024). Unlocking hidden mineral resources: Characterization and potential of bitterns as alternative sources of critical raw materials. JOURNAL OF CLEANER PRODUCTION, 436 [10.1016/j.jclepro.2023.140412].
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
29. 2024_Randazzo et al._Unlocking hidden mineral resources Characterization and potential of.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipologia: Versione Editoriale
Dimensione 3.43 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
3.43 MB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10447/639578
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 2
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 1
social impact