1 February 2017
Resources to be exploited even more intensively
K+S commissions K-UTEC to carry out a concept and feasibility study
K+S KALI GmbH has commissioned K-UTEC Salt Technologies AG of Sondershausen to develop an additional concept for extracting further products from the processing of saline wastewater. As a first step, this will involve K-UTEC developing a concept of how additional potassium sulfate can be produced from process water and tailing pile runoff of the Werra and Neuhof-Ellers plants. If the outlook is positive, a second step will be the preparation of a feasibility study taking technical and economic aspects into consideration. The results of this are to be available in a year’s time.
When finalizing the package of measures for water protection, by which the Werra plant’s wastewater was halved, K+S had promised to make further efforts to prevent saline wastewater. Apart from the construction of the KCF facility – currently at an advanced stage – and other wastewater mitigation measures, the Company is also intensifying its search for new production procedures. Dr. Rainer Gerling, managing director of K+S KALI GmbH, commented on this: “In addition to the knowledge gained by our own experts in the Analytical and Research Center, we also want to exploit external know-how to be able to make our production procedures even more efficient and environmentally friendly. We are confident that in K-UTEC we have a competent partner for this, which we are well acquainted with due to our longstanding cooperation.”
Study geared towards changed underlying conditions
Already in 2011, K-UTEC had developed initial proposals for K+S by means of which the saline wastewater of the Werra and Neuhof-Ellers plants could be reduced. As the underlying conditions have fundamentally changed in the meantime, for example as a result of the package of measures on water protection, the new study is to reflect the premises that are to be valid in the future. This concerns above all the occurrence and composition of the process water and tailing pile runoff following the completion of the KCF in 2018.
Additional products and better use of reusable substances
The objective the considerations focus on is extracting the reusable substances still present in the saline wastewater as completely as possible through further processing steps, and using them to produce products. In this way, saline effluent would be further reduced.
One great challenge in processing is the comparatively small reusable substance content in the saline solutions. The concept to be developed must therefore lead to a procedure by which this small reusable substance content can be extracted at a reasonable expense. It would then be economically useful and make ecological sense.
Intensive research for process optimization and environmental protection
Apart from the currently commissioned concept study, K+S is also pursuing a series of other research projects particularly dedicated to process optimization and environmental protection. The focus of these works has for a long time been on the company-owned Analytical and Research Center in Unterbreizbach (Wartburg district, Thuringia), where over 90 scientists, engineers and experts work. The fields of application of nano membrane filtration are also being intensively examined with an external partner.
K+S is additionally participating in the Weser River Basin Association’s newly established working group on “salt reduction”, which is dedicated to reducing saline release into the Werra and the Weser.
About K+S KALI GmbH
K+S KALI GmbH based in Kassel extracts crude salts containing potassium, magnesium and sulphur from its six mines in Germany. These are used to produce a wide range of fertiliser specialties and preliminary products for many different technical, industrial and pharmaceutical applications. K+S KALI GmbH is one of the world’s leading suppliers of potash and magnesium products. The company belonging to the K+S Group employs about 8,000 people.
You can find further information about K+S KALI GmbH on the company website at www.kali-gmbh.com
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