LIFE ZEROSILIBRINE project is a PILOT PROJECT to apply an innovate technology for the treatment of precipitated silica wastes, an environmental challenge with no feasible current solution. The implementation of a Circular Economy strategy in precipitated silica sector will allow to mitigate the environmental impact caused by the discharge of the by-product generated (sodium sulphate), recovering 100% of the water for the production process itself (reduction of water collection and reuse of the discharge water as process water) and recovering of sodium sulphate as a high purity product with commercial interest.
Reverse osmosis membrane technology is known and widely used for the treatment of saline effluents to obtain drinking water or osmosis water for industrial processes. But the use of reverse osmosis membranes to retain sodium sulphate is not generally recommended as the colloidal silica blocks the membranes making the process ineffective and economically unfeasible, as described in the BREF of precipitated silica.
This project has been designed by IQE and Eurecat to uptake laboratory scale results (2m3/h) to a pre-industrial scale (40m3/h) and validate it before the construction of full industrial installation (120m3/h) after LIFE project.
An industrial ultrafiltration pilot equipment and reverse osmosis pilot equipment have been designed with a treatment capacity of 40 m3/h of precipitated silica brines. The construction has been started at IQE site.
After the pilot installation construction, LIFE ZEROSILIBRINE project will be optimized the process to obtain the maximum performance of effluent permeated with the quality to be used as process water (<500 µS/cm) and a concentrated effluent of sodium sulphate.
With this concentrated effluent generated in the reverse osmosis industrial plant, a study of evaporation and crystallization alternatives will be conducted to obtain high purity anhydrous sodium sulphate. In LIFE ZEROSILIBRINE project, a pilot scale evaporator and crystallizer will be designed and built to validate the technology and obtain anhydrous sodium sulphate.
LIFE ZEROSILIBRINE project is a CLOSE TO MARKET project as it will put in market an environmental solution for precipitated silica wastes and will place in market a secondary anhydrous sodium sulphate that is already generating big interest in market. The implementation of this project constitutes a new business model for circular economy.