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Environmental balance of salt production speaks in favour of solar saltworks

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41 - 48

Sedivy V.M.
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Solar saltworks are most efficient converters of solar energy into an inorganic commodity. Conversion
rate of solar radiation into removal of water vapour from the brine takes place with 45%
efficiency. Solar salt requires only a fraction of man made energy compared with salt produced
by solution mining and thermal evaporation. Advanced technologies for biological management,
crystallisation, harvesting techniques and salt processing, allow production of solar salt 99.94%
pure, which is comparable with purity of vacuum salt.
Proper biological management of solar saltworks leads to brine containing less organics. Organic
compounds in brine adversely influence the crystal growth habit, which results in inclusions of
impurities inside the salt crystals. Advanced salt purification technology is able to completely remove
impurities from the salt crystals incurring insignificant salt processing losses.
About 60% of salt produced worldwide is consumed by the chemical industry. High quality solar
salt used as feedstock in membrane cell chloralkali plants causes equally low contaminated effluent
discharge from brine treatment as vacuum salt. Trace elements that may cause membrane
damage, such as iodine, or those elements that are critical to chlorine purity, such as bromine,
are present in smaller quantities in solar salt than in many salts originating from rock salt deposits.
Bird watchers driving in jeeps through solar saltworks may not realise that the vast water fields
hosting flamingos are not only beautiful but that they contribute towards the shift in the environmental
balance in the direction of higher overall ecological benefit as well.

solar energy, biological management, Halobacterium, impurity inclusions, salt crystal habit, salt processing, salt losses, vacuum salt, membrane chloralkali cells, brine treatment