SUMMARY Webinar: BrineMine – Sustainable mineral and fresh water extraction from geothermal brines in Chile

On May 25th the German-Chilean consortium of the BrineMine Project in cooperation with the German-Chilean Chamber of Industry and Commerce (AHK Chile) invited to the Webinar „BrineMine – Sustainable mineral and fresh water extraction from geothermal brines in Chile„. The objective of the event was to present the innovative approach of the project, its applications and the perspectives of valuable metals mining from none conventional sources.

The BrineMine Project

BrineMine is a German-Chilean research project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). It focuses on developing and testing an innovative technology that allows geothermal brines to be concentrated to selectively separate minerals and extract fresh water. The approach offers a raw material-efficient and sustainable extraction of lithium and other elements.

For this purpose, a demonstration plant was installed in Germany, where the extraction of artificial and real brines were tested in a laboratory. The next step is to set up the geothermal plant in Chile.

The project partners are: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), CEGA (Centre of Excellence for Geothermal Energy in the Andes), SolarSpring GmbH, Geothermie Neubrandenburg GmbH (GTN), Fraunhofer Chile Centre for Solar Energy Technologies (CSET) and Transmark.

„In the framework of the BrineMine project, we are conducting a techno-economic evaluation of the deep geothermal waters in Chile, which contain high concentrations of minerals. We are developing technological processes for the extraction of these valuable materials (e.g. lithium) and we seek to demonstrate this process – which can also be used to extract drinking water – at a geothermal plant in Chile. A process-engineering plant in Germany has shown that the approach doesn’t interfere with the energetic use of geothermal energy. The results of BrineMine could be used in the medium term for the extraction of other elements, such as rubidium and caesium, for which there is great economic potential.“
(Joachim Koschikowski, project coordinator, Fraunhofer ISE)

The Webinar

More than 200 people joined the webinar to learn more about the BrineMine project and the perspectives for the extraction of valuable minerals from non-conventional sources. The event had simultaneous translation in Spanish and English and was held in the framework of Eco Mining Concepts, a German-Chilean network that seeks to contribute to a more sustainable mining. The initiative is supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).

The Webinar highlighted Chiles great potential for generating electricity and heat through geothermal sources, since it is one of the countries in the world with the most extensive geothermal sources. Furthermore, the brines contain minerals – such as lithium, magnesium, potassium, rubidium, caesium – which are of great importance for the energy technology and high-tech industry and have been classified as critical raw materials.

We have seen that the Chilean industry has great interest in innovative technologies and sustainable approaches for the mineral extraction. The BrineMine project might be an interesting complement to conventional extraction processes.
(Iris Wunderlich, Project Leader Mining & Sustainability, AHK Chile)

PRESENTATIONS

1   Welcome and Introduction BrineMine Project Partners

Dr.-Ing. Joachim Koschikowski
Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE
SEE PRESENTATION

Prof. Dr. Thomas Kohl
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
SEE PRESENTATION

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Dinter
CSET – Fraunhofer Chile Research
SEE PRESENTATION

2   Boundary conditions for the energetical and material utilization of geothermal brines in Chile

Rubén Muñoz
Head of Geothermal and District Energy Unit
Chilean Ministry of Energy
SEE PRESENTATION

3   Potential for the use of geothermal energy in Chile

Prof. Dr. Diego Morata
Director of the Geothermal Centre of Excellence (CEGA)
SEE PRESENTATION

4   Results and economical consideration of the BrineMine Project

– Dr. Daniel Winter, Fraunhofer ISE
– Valentin Goldberg, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
SEE PRESENTATION

5   Potential for the energetical and material utilization of geothermal brines in the upper Rhine valley Germany – Example Insheim

Jörg Uhde
CEO, PfaIzwerke geofuture GmbH
SEE PRESENTATION

6  Perspective of Lithium and other valuable metals mining from nonconventional sources 

Pablo Melipillan
Head of Lithium Innovation, SQM
SEE PRESENTATION

PANEL DISCUSSION

CONCLUSION

Prof. Dr. Thomas Kohl
Professor at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

For further information please contact:

Dr.-Ing. Joachim Koschikowski
Head of Group „Water Treatment and Separation“
Division Solar Thermal and Optics
Fraunhofer-Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE
joachim.koschikowski@ise.fraunhofer.de