K+S Aktiengesellschaft: Werra-Weser Residents’ Conference study has serious shortcomings
July 23, 2013 (Source: K+S Aktiengesellschaft) — Professor Peter Quicker’s study, presented today by the applicant community of Werra-Weser residents, contains no new information for the disposal of saline wastewater, but instead has considerable shortcomings. The draft concludes that saline wastewater from the K+S Neuhof-Ellers and Wintershall plants could be evaporated and the resulting solid materials disposed of or processed to create products. An initial review by K+S indicates that the study has serious shortcomings, because it starts with false assumptions. Furthermore, implementing the concept presented would lead to a significant increase in carbon dioxide emission and would be incompatible with climate protection.
At K+S, evaporation processes making use of energy-efficient gas and steam turbine power plant engineering have basically been standard technology for processing saline solutions for many years. Thus the package of measures for water protection, which is currently being implemented at the Werra plant until 2015, also includes projects in which the wastewater is reduced and at the same time a further extraction of reusable substances is achieved, as for example by the expansion or new construction of evaporation facilities. In total, this package of measures will lead to the volume of saline wastewater being halved to seven million cubic metres a year.
Evaporating saline solutions without the extraction of reusable substances is therefore – as Professor Quicker also considers in his study – not state of the art, because it only transposes waste from a liquid into a solid state – and this with a high use of energy, with unacceptable CO2 emissions and at unjustifiable costs.
K+S, the Round Table and also external experts therefore arrive at the unanimous conclusion that evaporation is only justifiable technologically if further products can be extracted from the resulting solid materials. The considerations presented in the current study do nothing to change this situation.
K+S will continue researching to find sensible possibilities of reducing the saline wastewater.
Concept of recycling not practicable
In a conceptual variant, Professor Quicker also attempts to evaluate the production of fertilizer specialities from saline wastewater and therefore refers to a conceptual study by K-UTEC AG, which was presented at the Round Table in 2012. However, it is well known that this concept is lacking not only in evidence of commercial operational feasibility but also in all economic estimation, and the conceptual study itself leaves many questions unanswered. These shortcomings have found their way unchanged into the study now being presented and necessarily lead to the wrong conclusions. In particular, the indicators assumed by Professor Quicker for his economic feasibility calculations are out-of-date, because they are also based, among other things, on product prices from 2011, which are significantly above the current market level.
Water protection at the expense of climate protection?
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The imperative concerning energy efficiency and handling fossil energy sustainably is totally blanked out in the study. Thus, apart from the reference information only focussing on the cost aspect, that the evaluation of locally available sources of heat appears sensible and appropriate, there is no attempt to consider the emission consequences of the proposed evaporation processes. This is a major omission, because the decentralised power plants recommended by Professor Quicker in his concept would burden the environment, among other things, with more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. That corresponds to the CO2 emissions of a town with a population of over 70,000!
Whoever regards the study, despite this serious flaw, as a pointer for the disposal of saline wastewater, displays anything but sustainable environmental awareness. Whoever omits all other environmental factors for the sake of a stated concern for a single stretch of water makes matters too easy for himself.
About K+S KALI GmbH
In six mines in Germany, K+S KALI GmbH mines crude salts containing potash, magnesium and sulphur and produces a wide range of high-quality products from them for the agricultural, industrial, healthcare and nutrition sectors. Of the more than 8,000 people employed by the Company, some 5,000 are based at the production sites in Hesse and Thuringia.
Raj Shah has professional experience working for over a half a dozen years at financial firms such as Merrill Lynch and First Allied Securities Inc., ... <Read more about Raj Shah>