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Sci Total Environ. 2014 Sep 15;493:910-3. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.06.097. Epub 2014 Jul 7.

Potential mining of lithium, beryllium and strontium from oilfield wastewater after enrichment in constructed wetlands and ponds.

Author information

  • 1Institute of General Ecology and Environmental Protection, Technische Universität Dresden, D-01062 Dresden, Germany; Bauer Resources, 86529 Schrobenhausen, Germany.
  • 2Bauer Resources, Constructed Wetland Competence Centre, P.O. Box 1186, P.C. 114 Al Mina, Muscat, Oman.
  • 3Bauer Resources, 86529 Schrobenhausen, Germany; Bauer Resources, Constructed Wetland Competence Centre, P.O. Box 1186, P.C. 114 Al Mina, Muscat, Oman.

Abstract

Shortages of resources (chemical elements) used by growing industrial activities require new techniques for their acquisition. A suitable technique could be the use of wetlands for the enrichment of elements from produced water of the oil industry. Oil industries produce very high amounts of water in the course of oil mining. These waters may contain high amounts of rare elements. To our best knowledge nothing is known about the economic potential regarding rare element mining from produced water. Therefore, we estimated the amount of harvestable rare elements remaining in the effluent of a constructed wetland-pond system which is being used to treat and evaporate vast quantities of produced waters. The examined wetland system is located in the desert of the south-eastern Arabian Peninsula. This system manages 95,000 m(3) per day within 350 ha of surface flow wetlands and 350 ha of evaporation ponds and is designed to be used for at least 20 years. We found a strong enrichment of some chemical elements in the water pathway of the system (e.g. lithium up to 896 μg L(-1) and beryllium up to 139 μg L(-1)). For this wetland, lithium and beryllium are the elements with the highest economic potential resulting from a high price and load. It is calculated that after 20 years retention period 131 t of lithium and 57 t of beryllium could be harvested. This technique may also be useful for acquisition of rare earth elements. Other elements (e.g. strontium) with a high calculated load of 4500 tons in 20 years are not efficiently harvestable due to a relatively low market value. In conclusion, wetland treated waters from the oil industry offer a promising new acquisition technique for elements like lithium and beryllium.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

KEYWORDS:

Elemental harvest; Fixation; Metals; Produced water; Rare elements; Wetland

PMID:
25010942
[PubMed - in process]
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